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 of cancer death in men, behind lung cancer, in the United States. With proper treatment, however, men can live with or successfully have prostate cancer removed.
Educating patients is the most important precaution we can take to reduce prostate cancer-related deaths. About 217,700 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 32,000 men die from the disease in the United States each year. As we learn more about prostate cancer development, as technology advances and screening methods become more accurate, and as people become more educated about the disease, this number will continue to fall over time.
Utilizing my unique SMART (Samadi Modified Advanced Robotic Technique) surgery technique, we have achieved a 97% cure rate. Early detection plays a key role in this success, which is where education is most important; it is imperative that men are aware of and receive annual PSA tests after the age of 50 (or 40 for those at high risk). PSA, or Prostate Specific Antigen, testing is a simple blood test. An elevated PSA may mean that you’re at risk for prostate cancer. In most cases, we monitor your PSA over time to look for an abnormal elevation of PSA which strongly indicates the presence of cancer.
PSA screening, in conjunction with an annual digital rectal exam, is the most accurate way to monitor and detect prostate cancer. If any abnormalities are found, a biopsy can be done to confirm the presence of cancer. Annual exams enable the detection of cancer before it can spread beyond the confines of the prostate. Once the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland, it becomes significantly harder to treat. This is why I strongly urge men to receive yearly exams – they could very well save your life.