HC Deb 04 July 2000 vol 353 cc155-6
11. Mr. Vernon Coaker (Gedling)

What recent research he has commissioned into the (a) causes of and (b) treatment for prostate cancer. [127520]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Yvette Cooper)

The Government recently announced an extra £1 million for prostate cancer research this year. Research has now been commissioned on the identification, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. Further work will be considered in the light of the report from an expert review group.

Mr. Coaker

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Many people will be very pleased that an extra £1 million has been announced for prostate cancer research and treatment. Will she make sure that as many resources as possible go into research and treatment, because it is of growing concern that we seem to have an ever-increasing number of men suffering from prostate cancer? There has been very little research into prostate cancer so far, and there is very little clarity about the treatment that should be available. We have a long way to go. It is one of the greatest public health issues confronting this country now, and it will continue to confront us over the next few years.

Yvette Cooper

I agree with my hon. Friend. Historically, the level of funding for research into prostate cancer has been too low, given how little we know about the disease and how many men die from it each year. That is exactly why we have put the extra £1 million into new research this year. It is also why we are working with other funders, with the major charities, the Medical Research Council and the Cancer Research Funders Forum, and have asked them as their first project to look into prostate cancer research.

Mr. Andrew Rowe (Faversham and Mid-Kent)

The announcement is extremely welcome. Prostate cancer is a very large killer of men in our society. Will the Minister also bear in mind the fact that in the treatment of prostate cancer, about which so little is known, a large number of different specialists are frequently required to treat one patient? At present the level of understanding among general practitioners is not very high. Will she carefully examine the idea of having one named specialist in charge of each patient when he is diagnosed as having prostate cancer?

Yvette Cooper

We are commissioning guidance on improving outcomes for prostate cancer as part of the work commissioned by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. It is the first of the extra four cancer sites being worked on now. That is exactly the issue that we need to look at, building on the work of Calman Hine.