UHS launches new self-referral service for prostate cancer testing

University Hospital Southampton (UHS) has launched a new self-referral service for men who have symptoms of prostate cancer.

The project, which comes after the University Hospital reported a significant drop in referrals of men throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, focuses on improving access to specialists, raising awareness of early symptoms and information about testing.

After completing an initial questionnaire, men considered to be at high risk of contracting the disease will be offered a range of investigations – without the need for a GP referral.

High risk patients will be offered tests such as scans, urinary function assessments and prostate biopsies, as well as a blood test – known as a prostate specific antigen test (PSA) – which measures protein levels in the blood and is often elevated in men with prostate cancer.

Tim Dudderidge, Consultant Urological Surgeon at UHS and co-lead of the pilot scheme, said: “The dramatic drop in referrals caused by the Covid pandemic means far more men are living with high grade prostate cancer with the potential to spread without knowing it which is very worrying.

“Unfortunately, many of these missing men won’t be referred to our clinic until the cancer has spread and curative treatment is no longer an option.

“That’s why we’re committed to raising awareness of the disease and developing a new self-referral system that will make it easier for men who are at higher risk to access our service with ease.”

Amy Rylance, Head of Improving Care at Prostate Cancer UK, added: “The Covid pandemic has resulted in far fewer men speaking to their doctor about their risk of prostate cancer. As a result there are 13,000 missing men with prostate cancer who have not been diagnosed.

“This self-referral service is a great opportunity for men in the Southampton area to understand their personal risk of prostate cancer and the pros and cons of the PSA test, as well as getting bothersome urinary symptoms investigated.”