These are some statistics about prostate cancer from the Canadian Cancer Society’s booklet Cancer Facts & Figures: ­

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). In 2011: ­
  • An estimated 25,500 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 4,100 will die of it. ­
  • On average, 70 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer every day. ­
  • On average, 11 Canadian men will die of prostate cancer every day. ­
  • Men with a family history of prostate cancer make up 5 percent to 10 percent of cases. ­
  • One in 7 men will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime (the risk is highest after age 60) and one in 28 will die of it. ­
  • Of all the men diagnosed with prostate cancer, 99 percent survive at least 5 years, 93 percent survive at least 10 years, and 79 percent survive at least 15 years.
  • These figures include all stages and grades of prostate cancer, no matter what the treatment was. They do not account for men who die of other causes. ­
  • The highest prostate cancer incidence rates in the world are in African American men and Jamaican men of African descent. African American men are twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. The reasons for this are still not known.

PSA Tests: A Second Opinion is Best

Recent US research from Yale University concluded that PSA testing and digital rectal examination (DRE)—the gold standard for testing for prostate cancer—do not effectively reduce mortality rates.

Of course, this does not mean that these tests are worthless, but it only goes to show how the value of these tools depends on how they are being used.

Some doctors have referred to PSA testing as the mainstream’s ‘slash and-burn’ approach to prostate cancer, simply because of the way doctors react to PSA test results. If PSA levels are elevated, doctors will almost certainly recommend a painful biopsy that can result in bleeding and infection.

The real kicker is that these biopsies are often completely unnecessary. In one study, blood samples from 1,000 men were collected over a four year period. The men were all over 60 and more than 20 per cent of them had PSA levels that would’ve prompted many doctors to recommend a biopsy. However, half of these men showed normal PSA levels in their follow-up tests.

The moral of the story: Do not settle for a biopsy based on the results of one single PSA test and always ask for additional screenings to monitor your PSA function.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, you need all the available information on the disease and the very best treatments for it at hand… it’s not enough to simply cross your fingers, pray for a miracle and place your entire trust in the experts. Knowledge is power. so take the time to learn about alternative cancer treatments.

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