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Prostate cancer cases will double over the next 20 years globally, predicts Lancet study

The largest study of its kind on prostate cancer has predicted a surge in the number of cases worldwide by 2040.

The Lancet Commission on prostate cancer, published on 4 April, projects that the number of cases will double between 2020-2040, from 1.4 million to 2.9 million.

According to the report, the increase is driven by changing age structures and increased life expectancy.

“This surge in cases cannot be prevented by lifestyle changes or public health interventions alone, and governments need to prepare strategies to deal with it,” claim the authors.

One way to mitigate the harm caused by rising case numbers is to urgently set up systems for early diagnosis in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). “Early diagnosis programs should focus not just on prostate cancer but on men’s health more broadly,” they say.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in 112 countries, and accounts for 15% of cancers.

The Lancet Commission predicts that the number of deaths worldwide will rise by 85 per cent over the 20-year period but says wider awareness of the symptoms of the disease, access to testing initiatives, earlier diagnosis and advances in treatments could lessen the impact of the disease.

Professor Nick James, professor of prostate cancer research at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the lead author of the 40-page study told The Guardian a rise in prostate cancer cases was inevitable as more men lived to middle and old age.

“We know this surge in cases is coming, so we need to start planning and take action now,” he said.

“Evidence-based interventions, such as improved early detection and education programmes, will help to save lives and prevent ill health from prostate cancer in the years to come.”

He said there was a global need for new and improved ways to test for the disease, and also for people to become more aware of  prostate cancer symptoms.

The Lancet study also emphasised the need for more research on the drivers of ethnic differences in the prevalence of the disease.

Most prostate cancer research has disproportionally focused on men of European origin, despite rates of prostate cancer being twice as high in men of African heritage, concludes the study.

Treatment of advanced prostate cancer remains a problem, and affordable therapies are available but unevenly distributed, it says.

The Lancet findings will be presented at the European Association of Urology’s annual congress in Paris on Saturday.

DOWNLOAD The Lancet Commission on prostate cancer: planning for the surge in cases

Read: Practical advice on prostate cancer delivered through new online toolkit (AMHF, 2 April 2024)


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