TORONTO - The month of November, also known as Movember, is a time to raise awareness of men’s health issues including prostate cancer. New data reveals that continued progress in early detection and breakthrough treatments have cut the prostate cancer death rate by half over the last 26 years.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men. It is estimated that one in eight men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime.
According to a new report by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), Canadian Cancer Statistics 2021, the death rate from prostate cancer in 1995 was 45.1 per 100,000 males. Today, that rate has declined by 50% to an expected 22.7 per 100,000 males.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada. More specifically, prostate cancer, is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in males, behind lung and colon cancer. The decline in the fatality rate is significant; however, it is estimated that 4,500 men will die from prostate cancer this year alone.
The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that is part of the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer develops when the gland’s cells undergo genetic changes. Typically, prostate cancer affects older men, about 6 in 10 cases are males aged 65 and over.
Signs or symptoms of early-stage prostate cancer may not be noticeable. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include changes in urination, pain or discomfort in the groin area and erectile dysfunction.
This particular form of cancer is considered one of the least preventable based on the currently known risk factors. Yet, experts say that if found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment improve.
Research and advocacy play an integral role in the battle against cancer and the improvement in patient outcomes. Treatments may include a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, medications to stop hormone activity and/or surgery.
“By funding innovative research projects, we have been able to enhance treatments that improve outcomes and extend the lives of people with prostate cancer, helping them live longer and healthier lives”, said Elizabeth Holmes, Senior Manager of Policy and Surveillance, CCS.
Nearly 100% of individuals diagnosed with prostate cancer are expected to survive at least five years if the disease is detected early. Over the years, advancements in precision surgery and targeted radiation therapy may likely have contributed to the reduced prostate cancer death rate.
“Many of the investments in prostate cancer research made over the last 25 years will be showing their impact in the coming years”, Dr. Stuart Edmonds, Executive Vice-President of Mission - Research and Advocacy at CCS said in a statement.
Over the past decade, the CCS, along with the former Prostate Cancer Canada and the Movember Foundation, have invested about $132 million in research, specifically for prostate cancer. The funds supported research on all aspects from prevention to treatment including supportive care for those battling or who have survived cancer.
P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter