HL Deb 02 October 2000 vol 616 cc203-4WA
Lord Morris of Manchester

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether their policy with regard to research into prostate cancer has changed since the Written Answers by the Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 4 April (WA 17–19). [HL3829]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath)

In March 2000 the Department of Health announced £1 million additional new funding for urgent research studies into prostate cancer as a mark of its concern over this disease.

Subsequently, the NHS Plan, published on 27 July, announced that the Government would increase by £1 million the resources devoted to prostate cancer for each of the next three years.

On 6 September the department published The NHS Prostate Cancer Programme. The programme committed the four fold increase in Department of Health directly commissioned funding for prostate cancer research. By 2003–4 the department will be directly funding £4.2 million of research a year (subject to quality proposals being obtained to meet research priorities). This means, that quality permitting, Department of Health direct funding for prostate cancer research will be:

  • 2000–01: £1,200,000
  • 2001–02: £2,200,000
  • 2002–03: £3,200,000
  • 2003–04: £4,200,000

The Expert Review Group on prostate cancer established by the Medical Research Council on behalf of the Cancer Research Funders Forum is finalising its report. One of the key recommendations identified by the Expert Group is the need to build up research capacity in prostate cancer by establishing one or more centres of excellence and improving research networks. The Medical Research Council on behalf of Cancer Research Funders Forum members has approached existing prostate research groups about taking this forward. Part of the additional funds announced by the department will be made available for this purpose.

The department will seek to develop prostate cancer research in a number of key areas:

  • Distinguishing between fast and slow growing prostate cancers
  • Improving early detection tests
  • Assessing the benefits and harms of population screening
  • Assessing the benefits and harms of different treatments
  • Improving patients understanding of the issues around early detection tests and treatment

In addition, the Government are establishing a new NHS Cancer Research Network. Their initial aim is to double the number of cancer patients entering trials within three years. The department will make available an additional £5 million per annum from 2001–02 to set up and run the network, which will be fully implemented by 2004. Trials related to prostate cancer will be one of the high priorities for this new NHS Cancer Research Network.