PN calls for increased screening for prostate cancer

The Nationalist Party brought forward a number of proposals meant to lead to the earlier detection of cancer and increased research on the disease

The Nationalist Party has called for population-based screening for the most common cancers
The Nationalist Party has called for population-based screening for the most common cancers

The Nationalist Party has underscored the need for a greater emphasis on population-based cancer screening, and more local research on the disease.

The PN noted that around 2,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed in Malta each year, with 900 people dying from the disease annually.

In light of this, it said that population-based screening for prostate cancer - one of the commonest cancers in men - should take place.

The party noted that while the national cancer plan says that more scientific evidence is needed for the efficacy of such screening and its cost-utility criteria, there are also other views on the matter. The European Association of Urology, for instance, notes that prostate cancer is amongst the commonest cancers in men in Europe (417,000 cases and 92,000 deaths), and that new evidence indicated that screening is effective in this regard.

It also emphasised that there should be a specialised breast cancer treatment facility of the highest quality, which offers special services to patients suffering from this disease.

"The services offered to breast cancer patients, who number 350 each year, are not holistic. The facilities offered to them should, amongst other things, reflect the new guidelines issued by the European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists (EUSOMA),” the PN said.

The PN moreover called for a greater investment in cancer research, highlighting that Malta is currently in the third-from-last place when it comes to such research. It said post-doc grants should be re-issued to help promote cancer research at the University of Malta. “Research is the key to beat cancer, and our country must also play a role in this.”

PN MP and health spokesperson Stephen Spiteri said that population-based screenings for the most common cancers in Malta had to increase, which would lead to the detection of the disease in its early stages. This was particularly so for cervical cancer, he said.

He also underlined he need for improved psychological support for children suffering from cancer. as well as for their parents and the staff who care for them.

Former PN MP and doctor Michael Asciak drew attention to the need for more European Union and government funds to be used for long-term campaigns which raise cancer awareness, and contribute towards preventing the disease.

Spiteri and PN MEP Francis Zammit Dimech went on to urge the government to take stock, in mid-2019, of the extent to which the aims laid out in its 2017-2021 National Cancer Plan had been reached, and of whether its 2020 target date of providing all cancer treatment for free is on the way to being realised.