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Risks of prostate cancer will increase by a third

25/01/2013 | By Sharmila Chauhan
Cancer Research UK has released data suggesting that the risk of prostate cancer is increasing. Boys born in 2015 will have almost three times the risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer compared to those born in 1990.

Currently the lifetime risk for boys born 1990 is 1 in 20 (five per cent) whereas those born in 2015 will have a 1 in 7 (over 14 per cent) risk.


Improved diagnosis

One of the reasons that there may be an increase in a disease is because it is being diagnosed more frequently either due to increased public awareness, health campaigns as well as better testing systems. Rates of testing for prostate cancer have certainly increased: twenty five years ago only 15,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK, whereas now 41,000 men per year are diagnosed with the disease.

Prostate cancer is detected using a test called Prostate Specific Antigen Test (PSA), which detects both benign and life-threatening forms of prostate cancer as well as everything in between.

We’re detecting more cases of prostate cancer than ever before. And we’re carrying out an intensive amount of research to find better methods than PSA to distinguish between the minority of cases that are life threatening and do need treatment – the vipers – from the majority of cases that don’t – the grass snakes. But there is much more to be done." said Professor Malcolm Mason, Cancer Research UK’s prostate cancer expert.

Another reason for the increase, is the fact simple fact that as people live longer, there are simply more men likely to get the disease

Better treatments

So although levels of prostate cancer are increasing – the good news is that the death rates from prostate cancer in the UK are 18 per cent lower than they were 20 years ago. Treatments for prostate cancer have come a long way and coupled with the fact that more men are being tested than ever before, it means that patients can be treated earlier and with better treatments.

 “We need to build on the great progress already made and develop more targeted treatments for those men whose disease is life-threatening. We also need to develop better tests that will help us to know when to leave harmless forms of the disease alone.” said Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive.