After more than 20 years of decline, cases of prostate cancer in men and the number of deaths from the disease are rising.
A recent report says that a 3% rise in the number of cases took place between 2014-2019. In terms of mortality, less than 27,000 men died from prostate cancer in 2014. In 2022, that number increased to approximately 34,500.
The increase is deeply concerning. As one of the authors of the report said, “On a yearly basis, 8,000 more men died. Essentially, that’s like 16 Boeing 747s crashing.”
Are Declines In Prostate Cancer Screenings To Blame?
Since 1994, screening tests for prostate cancer had been a standard part of annual exams for men over 55. But in 2008, officials recommended against screening for men 75 years old and up. The concern was that doctors were over-diagnosing as well as treating too many men whose prostate cancer might progress so slowly that the men would die of something else before the cancer advanced became a problem. Treatments could lead to potential side effects such as incontinence and sexual dysfunction. The guidance against prostate exams increased for all men in 2012.
The changed guidelines and reduced number of screenings may be responsible for the initial decrease in incidence. The findings of this new study suggest the worries among some doctors and researchers that many older men were not getting screened and are now being diagnosed with advanced cancer.
Researchers now believe that, while not going back to how pervasive screening had previously been (or going back to men with slow-growing cancers receiving treatments that adversely affected their quality of life), there might need to be a rebalancing to increase the current guidelines to reverse the new trend of more death and possibly more metastatic diseases at the time of diagnosis.
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