The number of men dying from prostate cancer in the UK has hit an all-time high, new figures show.
Statistics reveal there were 12,031 deaths from the disease in 2017 – the most recent figures available – up from 11,637 the year before and 11,307 in 2014.
The rise is not due to prostate cancer becoming more deadly, but is largely due to an ageing population, which means more men are being diagnosed with the disease.
In 2017, 48,561 men were newly diagnosed with prostate cancer, up from 48,523 the year before and 47,864 in 2014.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK and is set to be the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease overall by the end of this decade.
A man diagnosed this year has a much better chance of survival than a man diagnosed a decade ago, but rising numbers with the disease means a corresponding increase in deaths.
Prostate Cancer UK, which analysed the Office for National Statistics data, said there are two main barriers to curbing the number of deaths – late diagnosis, and cancer coming back.
Only 47% of men are diagnosed at an early stage, while men whose cancer is thought to be curable can often see it return.
Angela Culhane, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, said: “By 2030, prostate cancer is set to be the most commonly diagnosed of all cancers in the UK.
“Before we reach this point, we absolutely must ensure that as many of these men as possible have their prostate cancer caught early and successfully treated, so their lives are not cut short by the disease.
“The fact that deaths from the disease are still reaching record highs serves as a stark reminder of the work yet to do.”
Prostate Cancer UK said its research plans are looking at better and earlier diagnosis, including the possibility of introducing an NHS screening programme.
It is also working on improved treatments and increased understanding of prostate cancer.
Journalist and Prostate Cancer UK ambassador Bill Turnbull said: “As someone whose prostate cancer was diagnosed once it had spread, I’m all too aware of how important it is that we find ways to improve diagnosis and treatment so that in the future lives are not cut short by this disease.
“In the two years since I went public with my illness, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many brilliant people who are doing their bit to fight prostate cancer.
“From researchers to health professionals, fundraisers and volunteers, it’s been hugely inspiring.
“However, more still needs to be done. If everyone across the country does one thing to support Prostate Cancer UK this year, then we can make a huge impact.
“We must keep up the momentum until prostate cancer is no longer a danger to thousands of men every year.”