04/05/2012 07:36 BST

40,000 Men A Year Get Prostate Cancer

According to the latest figures from Cancer Research UK, the number of men with prostate cancer in the UK has risen to 40,000, compared to just 14,000 two decades earlier in 1989.

Much of the increase has been linked to greater use of PSA (prostate specific antigen) testing, which measures a chemical produced by the prostate that may be raised when a man has the condition, say the organisation in a statement.

PSA testing first started in the UK in around 1989 and since then prostate cancer incidence rates have more than doubled, although the annual mortality rate of around 10,000 men has remained relatively constant in recent years.

However, according to Cancer Research UK, the test is not entirely reliable, as their research suggests two thirds of men with high PSA levels do not have prostate cancer.

Professor Malcolm Mason, Cancer Research UK’s prostate cancer expert, said, in a statement: “Accurately diagnosing and predicting the need for treatment of prostate cancer is fraught with difficulties and there is no escaping the fact that we need a better tool than PSA to help detect prostate cancers that actually need treating.

"Men need to be counselled about the upsides and downsides of having a PSA test and the uncertainties that it can raise."

During the past 10 years, UK death rates from prostate cancer have fallen by 11%. According to Cancer Research UK this is due to a range of factors, including improvements in available treatments and possibly men having the disease identified earlier.

Warning symptoms of prostate cancer include passing urine more often than usual, especially at night, or difficulty in passing urine. However, it is possible for prostate cancer to develop without producing any symptoms at all.

A Department of Health spokesman said in a statement: "All men over 50 are entitled to a free PSA test on the NHS provided they have made an informed choice in consultation with their GP."

A spokeswoman for The Prostate Cancer Charity added: "This increase in numbers highlights the scale of the disease and that we simply can't ignore it. Despite recent improvements, prostate cancer still lags behind other common cancers in terms of investment in research, services and access to effective treatments.”

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Pictures Of The Day: 4 May 2012