Monthly Archives: June 2011

Prostate Cancer Is Often Symptomless

In support of June’s “Men’s Health Month,” many news sources have published articles highlighting some of the health issues specific to men.  A UK news source recently recounted a story about a man who had symptoms of prostate cancer, but didn’t seek testing or treatment because they were mild and could be attributed to things other than the development of cancer.  A discussion with a friend, whose husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer after having the same symptoms, convinced him to finally see his doctor.  It was then that he was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of the disease. In the end this man was successfully treated, opting to have his prostate removed via robotic surgery.  However, the story highlights one of the most frightening aspects about prostate cancer: there are virtually no symptoms early in the development of this disease.   Furthermore, even when it has progressed, symptoms can seem mild in comparison to other serious diseases.  Prostate cancer will affect one out of six men in their lifetime.  Despite the increasing number of younger men being diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer, age continues to play a large [...]

The Truth Behind Prostate Cancer Mortality Rates

Researchers from Kings College London recently reported that between 1997 and 2007, prostate cancer was the cause of 49% of deaths in men diagnosed with this disease. When hearing the words “prostate cancer” and quickly looking at that figure of 49%, you might think the disease comes with a very high mortality rate. The way in which this statistic was presented is extremely misleading; it is very easy to misinterpret the claim made as, “49% of men who develop prostate cancer die because of prostate cancer.” When reading the study more closely, we find that of the 50,066 men who developed prostate cancer during the study period, 20,181 (40%) died after diagnosis of the disease. Of these deaths, 49% (9,889) resulted from prostate cancer. This amounts to an overall prostate-cancer-specific mortality rate of 20%. Compared to the U.S. which has a prostate-cancer-specific mortality rate of 15%, the UK findings are a little high, which is perhaps due to differences in prostate cancer monitoring and diagnosis between countries. The take home message is that prostate cancer, especially if undetected or untreated, can be fatal. In fact, it’s the second leading cause [...]