According to data collected by World Health Organization (WHO) from five continents during a span of more than thirty years, the occurrence of prostate cancer has been reportedly declining or stabilizing in men.
The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system and lies under the bladder, known for secreting seminal fluid and creating a platform for transporting sperm. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer are aged 65 or older, and they usually do not die from the disease.
Dr. Alex Krist, Professor of Family Medicine and Population Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as Vice Chairman of the US Preventive Services Task Force, elaborated on the commonalities of the cancer. Although not partaking in this study, Dr. Krist discusses that although prostate cancer “is one of the most common cancers that affects men,” it does not grow as rapidly as other cancers. The new study from WHO shows that prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer diagnosis among men, and the sixth most common cause of death. It is also noted that since the year 2012, prostate cancer has been the leading cause of death among men in 51 countries worldwide.
Reported as one of the fatal types of cancer for men in the United States and all over the world, recent research dating from 1980 to 2012 shows a new movement towards a promising future for prostate cancer patients. Researchers from the American Association of Cancer Research elaborated during a meeting in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday that the number of instances of men diagnosed with and dying of prostate cancer in most parts of the world either declined or remained on a stable trend.
According to the study, seven countries reported that the rate of prostate cancer diagnoses has decreased between the years 2008 and 2012. Thirty-three other countries demonstrated a steady rate of the diagnosis during the same timeline. Of all countries reported, The United States reports the highest decline of prostate cancer diagnoses during the years 2008 to 2012.
This data is based on the survival rate of patients diagnosed with the disease and it depends on factors such as the depth of how far the cancer has metastasized. Usually, men diagnosed with the low-risk version of the disease are not following through with treatment. Men are 2-3 times more susceptible to being diagnosed with prostate cancer if an immediate family member has the disease. The cancer is also more commonly found in African-Americans, therefore race has played a factor in the disease.
The challenges that were present in creating a universal database for prostate cancer patients worldwide included the differences in detecting the disease and having medicinal options at their disposal. Marybeth Freeman, Senior Associate Scientist of Surveillance Research at the American Cancer Society and lead study author, emphasizes that studies in the past have insinuated a substantial amount of disparity in prostate cancer rates around the world “due to factors including detection practices, availability of treatment, and genetic factors.” Freeman supports regular screenings that detect prostate-specific antigens, a test that was FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved in 1986 to properly manage traces of prostate cancer. She and her colleagues believe its more frequent use has lowered the number of diagnoses reported from the early 2000s to 2015. She also observes that in countries with lower socioeconomic conditions where the screening was not as much accessible, later diagnoses and greater cases of death were commonly reported.
The highest number of cases of the cancer during the years 2008 to 2012 were reported in Brazil, Lithuania, and Australia. The highest occurrence of death from prostate cancer, however, took place in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, South Africa, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
One downfall that is noted on prostate cancer screenings is the risk of over-diagnosing and excessive treatment. The United States Preventive Services Task Force states that although the screening has transformed the world of medicine in this particular sector, it should not be abused for all patients. Dr. Krist elaborates that “Men age 70 and above should not be screened for prostate cancer, as the harms outweigh the benefits for this age group.’ Therefore, the Task Force concludes that men age 55 to 69 should not immediately be obliged to get screened for prostate cancer, and the decision should be made on a case-by-case basis after discussing the decision with the doctor.
Freeman recognizes the uncertainty in the entirety of this data and the various ways the information was collected from various countries with different socioeconomic conditions, however she maintains that the study provides a more ample amount of information regarding prostate cancer on a global platform.