September is Prostate Health Awareness month and we’d like to share with you some pertinent information men need to know about prostate health and treatment from a new Northwestern Medicine study. The number of new cases of metastatic prostate cancer climbed 72% in the past decade from 2004 to 2013, reports the study. The report considers whether a recent trend of fewer men being screened may be contributing to the rise, or whether the disease has become more aggressive – or both.
The largest increase in new cases was among men 55 to 69 years old, which rose 92% in the past decade. This rise is particularly troubling, the authors said, because men in this age group are believed to benefit most from prostate cancer screening and early treatment.
“One hypothesis is the disease has become more aggressive regardless of the change in screening,” said senior study author Dr. Edward Schaeffer, chair of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Medicine. “The other idea is since screening guidelines have become more lax, when men do get diagnosed, it’s at a more advanced stage of disease. Probably both are true. We don’t know for sure but this is the focus of our current work. If I were a patient, I would want to be vigilant. I firmly believe that PSA screening and rectal exams save lives.”
If a patient is diagnosed with localized prostate cancer that is aggressive, treatment can be curative. If men present with metastatic prostate cancer, treatments are not curative and only slow disease progression. Most patients with metastatic prostate cancer eventually die from the disease. Bottom line here is be your own best advocate and discuss the most effective approach for you with your doctor.