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The Prostate Cancer Foundation Reveals the First National Report About Lack Of Basic Prostate Cancer Understanding in The U.S.
Most are unsure or believe symptoms exist for early-stage prostate cancer and delay visits to healthcare providers

LOS ANGELES, Calif., September 18, 2018 – The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) today released the results of its first national public awareness report about risks, actions and attitudes toward prostate cancer in the PCF 3P Report 2018: Public Perception of Prostate Cancer. The PCF 3P Report indicates that 69% of Americans surveyed lack an understanding or believe that there are noticeable symptoms associated with the early stages of the disease. Prostate cancer is almost symptomless.  Of note, only 42% of men have discussed screening with their doctor citing “exhibiting symptoms” being the top reason followed by risk factors and recommendation. Racial minorities (particularly African-American men), who are considered an at-risk group are less likely to be screened than Caucasian men, even though they are statistically more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“The PCF 3P Report illustrates the profound need for more prostate cancer health education and awareness. Men need to understand that if they are in an at-risk group or over 50, they should be discussing prostate cancer screening options with their primary care physician as one in nine of them will be diagnosed. This is critical information that will help save men’s lives,” said Jonathan W. Simons, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer.

The most recent guidelines for prostate cancer screening recommend the decision to screen for prostate specific antigen (PSA) be based on a shared clinical decision with their healthcare provider, but the PCF 3P Report indicates that this discussion is not taking place as often as it should due to lack of awareness and reticence to the perceived intrusiveness of the tests. After citing the lack of symptoms for not discussing prostate cancer with their doctors, discomfort about an inspection of the prostate (14%) and a preference “not to know” (12%) were the additional top reasons cited. It was revealed that 68% of men would be screened if they knew they could begin with a blood test. With the advancement in early detection methods available today, prostate cancer is 99% treatable.

Each year, even though more than three million men in the U.S. (14 million globally) are diagnosed with prostate cancer, there remains a general lack of understanding and ongoing dialog about this disease. As an example, 21% of Millennials thought women have a prostate.

“Men tend to feel invincible in the face of aging, some may call this denial. Their self-image is caught up in their identity of being young, virile, healthy, athletic, and capable of doing physical tasks. Preventative medicine, which seeks to protect against diseases or future health issues is not consistent with this self-image,” said Joseph LaBrie, Ph.D., Social Psychology Researcher and Professor of Psychology at Loyola Marymount University.  “Although men fear the prospect of an anal digital exam, a deeper fear may also be ‘at play’. It is the fear of losing one’s healthy self and the stigma that is still associated with cancer itself. Furthermore, prostate cancer is linked with sex and sexual virility, two things men desperately do not want to lose. No wonder there is so much avoidance and lack of communication about this disease.”

Surveying more than 2,000 adult men and women 18 and older (Millennials, Gen-Xers and Boomers) from across the U.S., the PCF discovered some interesting facts about the public’s perception regarding prostate cancer:

  • A significant lack of understanding about prostate cancer and its symptoms exists among Americans with 69% of people either unsure or believe there are noticeable symptoms for early-stage prostate cancer. Men were more likely than women (32% vs. 29%) to believe there are noticeable symptoms.
  • Men are more likely to have negative feelings about going to the doctor because they believe that prostate cancer screening tests put them in extreme discomfort and an embarrassing position with a DRE (or the anal probe). There is a lack of awareness that men can be screened for prostate cancer simply with a blood test.
  • Less than half of respondents – only 2 in 5 – believe there is a link between prostate and breast cancer. Although people are beginning to understand that there are genetic links between prostate cancer and some breast cancers, most don’t know the term BRCA, a gene mutation commonly associated with breast and ovarian cancers (which was brought to the world’s attention by actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie). Only 12% believe that the BRCA gene most related to breast cancer is also related to prostate cancer.
  • Overall, minorities are less likely than Caucasians to discuss prostate cancer screenings with their doctors as only 2 in 5 five men have been screened for prostate cancer. Moreover, African-American, Asian and Hispanic males are less likely to have been screened. This is particularly troubling as research shows that African-American men are 74% more likely to develop prostate cancer than any other ethnicity and are also 2.4 times as likely to die from the disease, than Caucasian men.
  • Millennials are underinformed when it comes to prostate cancer as 21% believe women can get prostate cancer.

Since the PCF was founded 25 years ago, the death rate from this disease dropped by 52%, due in great measure to the research led by the PCF, which has raised more than $765 million and provided funding to more than 2,000 research programs at more than 200 cancer centers and universities globally.  Recently, it was reported that for the first time in 25 years, while death rates for all other cancers continue to decline, the death rate from prostate cancer has plateaued rather then drop (based on data from 2013-2015), leading to speculation that it could be in part to changes in screening, treatment, and prevention.  In 1993, there were no clinical trials in place for advanced prostate cancer or studies focused on reducing deaths through early intervention and prevention. Due to the lack of public understanding about the prevalence of prostate cancer and continued stigma, it continues to remain an underrepresented disease in public consciousness and funding.

To review the PCF 3P Report 2018: Public Perception of Prostate Cancer in its entirety, visit www.PCF.org/3p.

About the Prostate Cancer Foundation

The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is the world’s leading philanthropic organization funding and accelerating prostate cancer research. Founded in 1993, PCF has raised more than $765 million and provided funding to more than 2,000 research programs at more than 210 cancer centers and universities. The PCF global research enterprise extends to 22 countries and funds a robust research portfolio. PCF advocates for greater awareness of prostate cancer and more efficient investment of governmental research funds for transformational cancer research. Its efforts have helped produce a 20-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer. More information about PCF can be found at www.pcf.org.

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Colleen McKenna
Prostate Cancer Foundation
(310) 570-4722
[email protected]


Donald Wilson for the Prostate Cancer Foundation
(310) 428-4730
[email protected]