Metastatic prostate cancer rates are on the rise, especially among men ages 55 to 69 years old. Researchers speculate that it’s a combination of more aggressive cancers and fewer men getting screened. The findings are in a study just published in the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.
Researchers from Northwestern University analyzed data from the National Cancer Data Base. They were able to pull information on 767,550 men from a total of 1,089 facilities throughout the United States. All of the men had been diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2004 and 2013. 3 percent of these men had metastatic cancer, meaning that the cancer had spread to other parts of the body.
The team found that the number of reported metastatic prostate cancer cases went up by 72 percent from 2004 to 2013. The biggest jump was in men 55 to 69 years old. In that age group, metastatic prostate cancer cases rose 92 percent. The researchers also found that the average levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, had nearly doubled in men diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. Higher blood levels of PSA are associated with more aggressive cancers. The research team also noted that fewer men are getting screened for prostate cancer these days and most new cases aren’t reported until the cancer has progressed.
The number of new cases of metastatic prostate cancer has increased substantially over the past decade, especially in older men. The researchers attribute this to a decrease in men getting screened. There’s also a possibility that the disease is getting more aggressive. Either way, the results are concerning. If caught and treated right away, localized prostate cancer is highly curable. Once the cancer has metastasized, treatment becomes much more difficult. Most men with metastatic prostate cancer can’t be fully cured and eventually succumb to the disease. The authors of the study believe that current screening guidelines need to be adjusted to take into account genetics and other individual risk factors.
Weiner, A.B., Schaeffer, E.M. et al. Increasing incidence of metastatic prostate cancer in the United States. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases (2016).