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Prostate Cancer Screeing: Frequently asked questions

(You can download a printable pdf file of these pages here)

How common is prostate cancer in the UK?

It is now the commonest form of cancer diagnosed in men in the UK. This graph shows the number of new cases found each year (incidence)

Prostate Cancer European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, UK, 1975-2010 [1 ]

The incidence appears to have doubled in the last 20 years. This is partly due to an aging population but also because more cases are being found. Despite this, the number of deaths is falling.

Prostate Cancer European Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, UK, 1971-2010 [2]

If a cancer seems to be becoming commoner but the number of deaths is falling that could be because treatments have become a lot better and/or because many of the new cases would not have caused death if left untreated.

There are probably many prostate cancers out there waiting to be discovered. A study in Detroit published in 1996 looked at 525 men who had died in accidents. Their prostate glands were completely removed and examined carefully for prostate cancer. The percentage in different age groups who were found to have cancer of the prostate amongst white races is shown below [3].

Age group

20-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

60-69

70-79

% with cancer of the prostate

8 %

31 %

37%

44%

65%

83%

 

So the harder you look the more cancers you will find.

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