American Cancer Society® Reports Increase in Late-Stage Prostate Cancer
Amid the great news reported recently by the American Cancer Society — that overall deaths from cancer have dropped by a third since 1991, saving nearly 4 million lives in that time — was a sobering statistic about a few types of cancer that appear to be getting worse. Prostate cancer, the most common type of cancer diagnosed in men, is an outlier from the generally good news.
Prostate cancer diagnoses have been on the rise over the past decade or so, along with a continued increase of late-stage diagnoses. Prostate cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, with five-year survival rates better than 99% for men diagnosed with early-stage cancer. But when the cancer is found at later stages, especially if it has metastasized to distant parts of the body, outcomes are much worse: just 32% of men diagnosed with distant-stage prostate cancer are alive five years after being diagnosed.
2023 Prostate Cancer Statistics1
That’s why early detection is so important, and it’s why routine screening can make such a difference. This kind of screening, performed regularly, is able to detect the presence of cancer long before symptoms occur. Having prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels checked with a simple blood test at an annual physical can help identify patients who may have early-stage prostate cancer.
But even for the most dedicated men, the COVID-19 pandemic made it almost impossible to keep up with regular screening practices. Consequently, doctors are already seeing more people getting diagnosed with cancer in later stages than usual.
For men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s essential to gain as much information as possible for the best chance at successful treatment. How fast is the cancer growing? How likely is it to spread to other parts of the body? Is treatment necessary, or can the tumor be monitored safely for now?
At Myriad Genetics, we developed a genetic test to answer those questions and help guide treatment decisions for men with prostate cancer. The Prolaris test® is designed for use after a diagnosis of early-stage cancer but prior to treatment. It helps patients and physicians understand whether treatment is needed or whether actively watching would be safe. And it really makes a difference: Prolaris test results have led to changes in prostate cancer management in up to 65% of patients.2-4
The Prolaris test can also be paired with MyRisk® Hereditary Cancer Testing to uncover if a hereditary, and possibly more aggressive form of prostate cancer exists. For patients diagnosed with later-stage prostate cancer, it can be a good idea to combine the hereditary risk test with our Precise™ Tumor test to help identify specific clinical trials or qualify men with metastatic prostate cancer for personalized treatments.
But even the best tests can’t help patients who haven’t been diagnosed. In an effort to improve diagnosis and outcomes for men with prostate cancer, the American Cancer Society has launched IMPACT (short for Improving Mortality from Prostate Cancer Together). The initiative will help provide much-needed funding for cancer research and also expand access to prostate cancer screening in the US.
If you want to help, make sure the men in your life are aware of the importance of regular PSA screening! The American Cancer Society recommends screening by age 50 for men at average risk, and by age 40 for men at higher risk (such as people with a family history of prostate cancer).
- Lin, D. W., et al. Identification of men with low-risk biopsy-confirmed prostate cancer as candidates for active surveillance. Urologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations. 2018; doi: 10.1016/j.urolonc.2018.03.011Crawford ED, Scholz MC, Kar AJ, et al. Cell Cycle Progression Score and Treatment Decisions in Prostate Cancer:Results From an Ongoing Registry. Curr Med Res Opin 2014; 1-7
- Shore, N D., et al. Impact of the cell cycle progression test of physician and patient treatment selection for localized prostate cancer. The Journal of Urology 2016;195(3),612- 618
- Lin, D. W., et al. Identification of men with low-risk biopsy-confirmed prostate cancer as candidates for active surveillance. Urologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations. 2018; doi: 10.1016/j.urolonc.2018.03.011