Updates on Prostate Cancer And Its Alarming Rate of Incidence

Prostate cancer incidence has been growing at an alarming rate for the past decade. Not only that, but it has also been one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in men. While the apparent cause for the later stages of prostate cancer has yet to be fully explained, scientists are continuously eyeing on the early stages. They are actively researching the risk factors of the cancer and the early screening process that might be the most effective for the disease. We will explore these latest research attempts to understand prostate cancer, its risk factors, screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

Prostate cancer and its root causes

The organ subjected to the disease is the prostate gland. It sits below a man’s urinary bladder and at the lower part of the intestine. This organ is responsible for producing the seminal fluid that helps nourish and transport the sperm upon ejaculation. As part of the male’s reproductive organ, cancer in this part of the body can induce changes in a man’s hormonal status.

Prostate cancer develops in several stages. Throughout its stages, this development can affect hormone responsiveness. The stages of prostate cancer are as follows:

  1. Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia: abnormal cell growth of epithelial cells in the prostate gland.
  2. Localized Adenocarcinoma: a specific kind of cancer affecting the nearby tissues of glandular organs.
  3. Locally Advanced Adenocarcinoma: a specific kind of cancer affecting the nearby organs such as the bones, liver, and lungs.
  4. Metastatic Prostate Cancer: an extreme case of cancer that has already affected several parts of the body.

Knowing this progression of prostate cancer, it would be appropriate to ask how all these started. The risk factors for the disease are generally similar to common cancers. The following are the risk factors:

  • A person’s genetic history of cancer.
  • Cigarette smoking can increase the mortality rate for prostate cancer.
  • Excess body weight can also increase prostate cancer fatality.

Researchers also add that recent developments in medical technology can also affect the screening and diagnosis of prostate cancer, thus limiting the risk for the disease. However, these factors do not necessarily reduce the general incidence rate of prostate cancer.

An alarming increase in the rate of prostate cancer incidence

We now focus on the daunting trends that prostate cancer has shown throughout the past years. Based on a 2015-2019 report provided by the US Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program, prostate cancer will lead the number of new cases in men. At the same time, it will be the 2nd most probable cause of cancer deaths in men. And most alarming of all, prostate cancer boasts an average annual percent increase of 3.7%. This increase is more than two times higher than the second leading new cancer case increase in kidney and renal pelvis. 

In a more detailed analysis using a US Cancer Statistics Database examination from 2005 to 2016, doctors found that prostate cancer cases at the later stages are increasing yearly. Specifically, cancers that have spread throughout the whole body in men aged 75 and above increased by 5.2% every year from 2010 to 2016. On the other hand, men aged 50-74 years have an increase of 11.1% for cancer affecting the nearby prostate gland tissues. 

However, there can be good news drawn from this examination. The early stages of prostate cancer saw a general decrease in the incidence rate. From 2007 to 2016, doctors found a decline in the incidence rate by 6.4% every year in men aged 50-74 years. Meanwhile, they have also observed a 10.7% decrease yearly from 2007 to 2013 in men aged 75 years and above. 

Prevention is better than cure. This is especially highlighted in the way the data above presents itself. It appears that preventing prostate cancer from spreading to more extreme cases could be an indication of the decrease in the incidence rate. Specifically, doctors could not have done this without the recent advancements in screening and diagnosis technology that we use today. 

The current prostate cancer screening and diagnosis technology

The standard screening process for prostate cancer involves a prostate gland biopsy. However, current research suggests the inclusion of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to increase effectivity. 

In 2018, doctors performed a diagnostic trial of MRI with targeted biopsy on 500 individuals who had signs of having prostate cancer. The trial showed that compared to standard biopsy, doctors diagnosed more percentage of individuals with significant cancer using targeted biopsy and MRI. They also found lower detection of insignificant cancer using MRI with targeted biopsy compared to standard biopsy.

Doctors have also performed the same kind of trial in 2021 for the same biopsy method for prostate cancer. This time, they tried it for a screening of 1532 individuals. The trial had the same results as the 2018 trial. It also screened for more percentages of individuals with significant cancer and fewer detection of insignificant cancer using MRI with targeted biopsy.

How is prostate cancer currently being treated?

Currently, there are several treatment types depending on the cancer stage the patient has. The following are the standard hospital treatment for prostate cancer:

  • Active Surveillance: monitoring without treatment typically advised for asymptomatic and comorbid patients.
  • Surgery: removal of tumor typically given to healthy patients.
  • Radiation Therapy: destruction or disruption of cancer cell growth through high-energy x-rays.
  • Hormone therapy: reduction or complete blockage of male hormones to keep cancer from growing.
  • Chemotherapy: the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or to stop them from growing.
  • Targeted therapy: use of substances that specifically interact with cancer cells to avoid harm to nearby healthy cells.
  • Immunotherapy: boosting or strengthening the patient’s immune system to fight against cancer cells.
  • Bisphosphonate therapy: use of bisphosphonate drugs to reduce damages done to the bone due to cancer metastasis.

All of these are currently being offered in hospitals as standard treatment. While doctors are still using these, researchers are also looking into alternative treatments such as cryosurgery, ultrasound therapy, and photodynamic therapy.

Click here for our blog Disclaimer.