Prostate cancer programme

The Ministry has developed an action plan to ensure men have improved access to quality prostate cancer information and care.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in New Zealand men. 

Every year about 3000 men, brothers, fathers, husbands, sons and grandfathers are found to have prostate cancer and about 600 die from the disease.  These deaths can be prevented if prostate cancer is detected early.

Budget 2013 announced $4.3 million over four years to raise awareness of prostate cancer and ensure men have better access to quality information and care.  The funding will be used to

  • develop information resources for men and their families.
  • create GP support material to help men and their doctors make informed decisions about prostate cancer tests and treatment.
  • develop clinical standards to make sure all men have fair and equal access to quality cancer care.

Work we're doing to improve prostate cancer outcomes

In 2011 the Government Health Committee was established, and conducted an inquiry into the early detection and treatment of prostate cancer.

The Committee recommended against establishing a national population screening programme for prostate cancer.  It concluded that while prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing saves some lives it must be balanced against the known side effects of further investigation and treatment. The committee made 17 recommendations in its report to Parliament, which were supported by the Government. They included monitoring international trials relating to the benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening; and that an equity-focused prostate cancer quality improvement programme be set up so all men with prostate cancer have fair access to good quality care.

In February 2012 the Ministry established a 19-member Prostate Cancer Taskforce. The taskforce included specialists and experts including urologists, general practitioners, pathologists, oncologists and consumer representatives. The taskforce report: Diagnosis and Management of Prostate Cancer in New Zealand: Recommendations from the Prostate Cancer Taskforce;  made 40 recommendations that span the entire prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment pathway.  Recommendations include:

  • providing men and their families and whānau with clear and balanced information about prostate cancer tests and treatments
  • providing health professionals with training and tools to help them assess men concerned about prostate cancer and manage those with the disease
  • improving pathology reporting to ensure more consistent prostate cancer tumour grading
  • improving data collection to enable better monitoring across the prostate cancer pathway.

In 2013, the four-year Prostate Cancer Awareness and Quality Improvement Programme (AQIP) was launched to improve outcomes for men with prostate cancer. The programme outlines issues that exists for early detection and treatment of prostate cancer in New Zealand, provides solutions and identifies the next steps for the Ministry and wider health sector. Actions needed to improve prostate care are grouped into three areas:

  • greater access to information
  • care along the cancer pathway
  • monitoring, evaluation and research
  • Learn more about the AQIP

A Prostate Cancer Working Group and a set of specialist sub-groups have been set up to guide implementation of the Prostate Cancer Awareness and Quality Improvement Programme (AQIP).

Detailed booklets were developed in 2013.  The resources are based on clinical advice and recommendations from the Prostate Cancer Taskforce.

In July 2015, a new clinical guidance was released to help reduce the harm caused by unnecessary treatments for men with low-risk prostate cancer. The clinical guidance focuses on the use of active surveillance to manage men with low-risk prostate cancer. It helps standardise care across the country as it sets out who should be considered for active surveillance, and when they should move to other management options.

In September 2015, a guidance was released for doctors and health services to provide clear, consistent and culturally appropriate guidance on the possible harms and benefits of testing and treatment options so men, their family and whānau can make informed decisions.

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