The American Cancer Society’s 2021 Facts & Figures holds good news for all Americans: overall, fewer people are dying from cancer, a 30-year trend due largely to advances in early detection and treatment for some cancers, including prostate cancer. It is equally encouraging that the death rate for prostate cancer has been declining steadily since the Prostate Cancer Foundation opened its doors in 1993.
But the facts remain. One in eight men are projected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, up from one in nine in last year’s report. As the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in men, prostate cancer remains a significant burden. This latest news is both a sobering reminder that much work remains to be done, and a call to arms to drive forward, with even greater urgency, to advance cures.
The savvy reader may find the recent plateau in deaths from prostate cancer of interest, reminding us that it’s important to look at these numbers in context. This ACS annual report reflects new deaths through 2018. So much progress has happened since that time. Practice-changing developments in just the last two years alone—such as PARP inhibitors, PSMA PET imaging, and expanded use of existing FDA-approved medications that prolong survival—hold great promise for driving those numbers down.
I am inspired by the tremendous progress we have made. Thirty years ago, advanced prostate cancer was a death sentence with only three treatment options available. Today, there are 24 FDA-approved treatments, including four approved in the last two years alone.
Now is the time to accelerate the pace of discovery.
PCF will continue our mission to end death and suffering from prostate cancer. Alongside this mission, we commit to take up the cause of early detection, and more accurate risk assessment. We continue our drive to understand the genetic underpinnings of high-risk prostate cancer so that we can detect it earlier and treat it more precisely, with lower side effects. With new understanding of how an anti-inflammatory diet reduces the risk of the onset and progression of prostate cancer, we will advance our work in precision nutrition and disease prevention. And we will continue to address African American disparities in prostate cancer by catalyzing the effort to study how genetics, tumor characteristics and lifestyle factors contribute to the development of prostate cancer.
Cure is our end goal, attainable if we collectively accelerate progress against this disease. This year’s updated stats, combined with a difficult pandemic year, invite every man to talk to his doctor about personal and family risk and prioritize screening. Go to pcf.org/guides to download Things Every Man Should Know About Prostate Cancer.