Prostate Issues

Prostate Issues

Prostate UK is launching a campaign to raise awareness of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. BPH affects more than a third of men aged over 50 years, equating to around 3.2 million men in the UK1-3, most of whom suffer in silence.

The campaign is being unveiled today at a parliamentary reception in the House of Commons, which the charity is hosting with funding from GlaxoSmithKline UK Limited (GSK).

The campaign has two key objectives. The first is to encourage men to seek medical advice for unexplained urinary symptoms rather than assuming they are a normal part of ageing.

The second is to ensure that where appropriate, BPH is managed by GPs in the primary care setting in order to treat it earlier and minimise costly surgical interventions.

To help facilitate this Prostate UK is campaigning for BPH to be included on the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), which helps GPs implement good practice in their surgeries.

BPH may cause a range of unpleasant symptoms including frequent night-time waking to pass urine, running to the toilet, incontinence and difficulty in urinating.

It can lead to irritability, anxiety, loss of sex drive and can have a significant, adverse impact on the quality of life of those affected and their families.

Effective treatments are available to relieve the symptoms of BPH but many men fail to seek medical advice mistakenly believing that urinary symptoms are an inevitable part of the ageing process.

Unfortunately, if left untreated, BPH can lead to increased risk of serious and expensive long-term complications such as acute urinary retention (AUR), kidney and bladder conditions, hospitalisation and surgery.4 It is estimated that the total annual cost of treating BPH in secondary care is over £111 million.5

Amanda McLean, Chief Executive of Prostate UK, explains why the charity is mounting the campaign: "Our mission is to stop prostate disease ruining lives. Awareness of BPH is very low, despite the fact that it’s such a prevalent condition. It is currently under-diagnosed and under-treated in the UK and we want to change that.

"The good news is that effective treatments are available. Men need to know that urinary symptoms don’t have to be part and parcel of getting older. They can put their embarrassment to one side and get medical help to improve their day-to-day life."

To coincide with the launch of Prostate UK’s campaign a new report which was produced by GSK in conjunction with Prostate UK, ProState of the Nation, has been published. This report highlights the current situation of under-diagnosis and under-treatment of BPH in the UK and the financial impact on the NHS caused by unnecessary referrals and expensive complications.

The ProState of the Nation Report also emphasises the fact that with appropriate training and resources GPs can do much to effectively manage BPH. This would help to reduce the economic burden of BPH given that procedures and associated costs undertaken in secondary care are estimated to be almost 60% higher than primary care drug treatment.5

Professor Roger Kirby, Director, The Prostate Centre, explains why he is supporting the campaign: "As the population ages the prevalence of BPH will continue to increase and it is vital that we begin to view this disease as a priority and develop more appropriate ways of managing it.

"We are calling on the NHS to recognise BPH management and treatment as a key health priority and to make every effort to educate and encourage primary care to manage the condition appropriately. Inclusion of BPH on the Quality and Outcomes Framework would certainly help to make this a reality."

Dr Jon Rees, a GP who regularly treats patients with BPH, comments: "In most cases, assessment and management of BPH in general practice is straightforward but currently too many patients are being treated inadequately or are being referred to urologists inappropriately.

"With the right support and information, more GPs will be able to diagnose and treat BPH with confidence, helping to reduce delays in treatment and minimise costly surgical interventions."