A new but controversial study shows that in the U.S. advanced prostate cancer cases jumped 72 percent over the last decade. Study authors reported that the group with the highest risk are men in their mid-50s to 69.
This particular group saw an increase in aggressive prostate cancer cases of 92 percent in just one decade, the study revealed. Dr. Edward Schaeffe, lead author of the research paper and urologist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, acknowledged that his team doesn’t know yet what exactly caused the surge in cancer cases among men.
The research team however has at least two hypotheses. It may be either that there is less screening or prostate cancer has become more virulent. Yet, although we don’t know yet how aggressive the cancer really is now, it is certain that men have less access to screening.
This happened after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued a set of guidelines in 2012 advising men not to get screened for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) anymore as results are unreliable. PSA levels are especially high in men affected by prostate cancer.
Schaffer criticized the task force for their move to remove patients from the decision-making process. The research team is convinced that PSA-based screening is a life-saver.
Study participants who were all prostate cancer patients had higher levels of the protein in their system than they did in 2004. Researchers believe that the difference may be due to faulty screening.
On the other hand, prostate cancer cases have been on the rise before the task force’s recommendation so the phenomenon cannot be tied to lack of screening alone. Study authors admitted that there may be other factors at stake.
They do recommend patients to talk with their doctors on their screening options especially if they are at high risk of developing the disease. Men that are not at high risk should get screened when they reach their 50s. Men with high risk should demand screening as soon as they reach their 40s.
Screening no longer makes a difference if the patient has less than a decade of life expectancy.
Schaeffer strongly believes that more PSA screening means fewer cases of metastatic cancer, but the American Cancer Society challenged his team’s findings. The group criticized the team’s scientific methods used in finding a link between reduced screening and a surge in cancer cases.
The recent study was published Tuesday in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.
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