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Fast track plan will slash waiting times for prostate patients

Prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment waiting times will be cut significantly by a new rapid access facility at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital.

The new service in the hospital radiology department, which opens in several weeks, will include two ultrasound rooms and an area for taking biopsies for patients with possible prostate cancer.

"Our aim is to provide patients with their diagnosis within two weeks of their clinic visit," said consultant urologist Kashif Siddiqui, the lead surgeon for the service.

"All of the tests will be completed on the same day. Patients will see myself and the liaison nurse in the clinic before they go to the new area in radiology for their ultrasound and biopsy," he added.

Mr Siddiqui said a lead consultant pathologist would provide the diagnosis while a course of management for the patient would be discussed by a multidisciplinary team meeting.

Family doctors will be able to refer patients to the Rapid Access Service, leading to improvements in diagnosis of prostate cancer at primary care level.

The ultrasound and biopsy taking aspects of the service will come under the direction of consultant radiologists Dr Frank Keeling and Dr Marina Morrin. Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed male cancer in many western countries, with more than 2,500 new cases diagnosed in this country each year.

Increase

Men have a one in nine chance of developing the cancer, according to statistics from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland. The National Registry also estimates that there will be a 275pc increase in the incidence of prostate cancer by 2020, which means that 3,768 new cases will be diagnosed in 2020.

Prostate cancer can be cured if it is treated while confined to the prostate gland -- 69pc of men diagnosed with cancer survive for five years or longer.

There is currently no screening programme in Ireland for the condition. Most men diagnosed with the cancer are over 50 and the risk increases with age.

Irish doctors are ahead of their EU colleagues in providing information and support to newly diagnosed sufferers.

A Euro-wide survey found that 98pc of patients here given details about their condition and their treatment options.

csheey@herald.ie