According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1.4 million men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020. In the US, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer and it is the third most common cause of cancer death in men. Approximately one in seven American men is diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. In the UK, roughly 12,000 men lose their lives every year because of prostate cancer.
Although prostate cancer is a serious condition, survival rates improve with early detection of this disease. Quality of life also improves with early diagnosis, as the patient might avoid extensive treatment and surgery. In the UK, there is no national-level screening programme for this cancer. The breast cancer screening programme is well established in the UK and similar priority should be given to prostate cancer screening in men. By implementing early diagnostic and screening programmes, thousands of deaths from this cancer will be avoided.
The UK Government has launched a large prostate cancer screening trial in the UK. On International Men’s Day, November 19, the UK Government and Prostate Cancer UK unveiled a screening trial to identify ways of detecting this cancer in the earlier stages. They will recruit thousands of men who are at higher risk of this cancer. This trial, called TRANSFORM, will use innovative solutions such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) screening to identify cases not detected by blood tests and in the absence of cancer symptoms. If the trial is successful, it will be a major boost for prostate cancer screening.
In the US, men 55–69 years old are recommended to have prostate cancer screening. The screening involves a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. PSA screening can detect prostate cancer early, but it can also result in the detection of non-life-threatening tumours. Therefore, PSA screening guidelines vary between countries and have changed over time. The US Preventive Services Task Force changed its policy and recommended against routine PSA screening for men ages 75 and older in 2008. Meanwhile, the Japanese Urological Association recommended PSA screening for all men at risk of prostate cancer in Japan in 2010. Future changes in PSA screening guidelines and screening trials in the UK would likely have a major impact on the diagnosis of prostate cancer cases.
Prostate cancer numbers are a major public health burden in the US and the UK. GlobalData epidemiologists forecast that the diagnosed incident cases of prostate cancer in the UK will increase from 56,000 cases in 2023 to 60,000 cases in 2028. Similarly, incident cases will rise from 190,000 in 2023 to 205,000 in 2028 in the US. The biggest risk factor for prostate cancer is advancing age. In both countries, the number of cases peaks in the 65–74 age group. As the population ages, the risk of prostate cancer will continue to rise in these countries.
There is a need for effective and innovative screening programmes directed at the high-risk group of men for early detection of this cancer. Awareness among men and an effective screening programme will help save thousands of lives lost every year to this cancer.
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