Midlanders are facing an "unacceptable" postcode lottery it was claimed today as Government figures found death rates from prostate cancer varied massively across the region.
Depending on where people live, mortality rates for the disease in Parliamentary constituencies across the Midlands swung from 21 deaths per 100,000 population in Stoke-on-Trent North, 21 per cent below the national average, to the Wyre Forest where there were 31 deaths per 100,000 - 17 per cent above the benchmark of 26.6 deaths.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, excluding non melanoma skin cancer, with nearly 35,000 new cases diagnosed in Britain each year - of which about 10,000 die from the disease.
The differences, highlighted in new figures from the Office of National Statistics, were unconnected with affluence or social and ethnic background.
Some of the region’s richest middle class wards - Rugby and Kenilworth (29, nine per cent), Sutton Coldfield (29, nine per cent) and Worcester (31, 17 per cent) - had the worst death rates compared to poorer areas like Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath (23, -14 per cent).
In Birmingham, there are significant differences in death rates between neighbouring constituencies.
The starkest example is between Edgbaston, which has 25 deaths per 100,000 six per cent below the national average, and Selly Oak where there are 31 deaths per 100,000 population.
Walsall is a borough divided by the disease: Walsall North has 22 deaths per 100,000 - 17 per cent less than the national figure - while Walsall South recorded 28 prostate cancer deaths per population, five per cent above it.
Similarly Wyre Forest has one of the worst rates in the region for the disease - 31 per 100,000 at 17 per cent above national average - but its near neighbours in Halesowen and Rowley Regis have one of the best, 24 deaths per population which is 10 per cent below.
Nationally, around 60 per cent of cases occur in men over 70, and Afro-Caribbean men are three times more likely to develop the disease than white men.
The figures were presented as evidence of health service inequality by Prostate Cancer Charter for Action, a coalition group of voluntary sector and professional organisations.
Frank Chinegwundoh, campaign supporter and consultant urologist at Newham University Hospital NHS Trust, said: "More than any other cancer, the story of prostate cancer in the UK remains a story of inequalities.
"Prostate cancer sufferers report worse care, lower awareness and poorer outcomes than other patients. Now these figures show that even amongst prostate cancer patients, a man’s chances of dying depends on where he lives. There can be no excuse for these inequalities in a 21st Century NHS.
"If the Government’s Cancer Reform Strategy is to be a success, then these unacceptable postcode lotteries must be eliminated." The figures are included in a report from the coalition group, Countdown to Equality, launched at the House of Commons today.