The number of men being diagnosed with prostate cancer is set to treble in a generation.
Report by Mailonline
The “alarming” rise — revealed in figures from Cancer Research UK — is thought to be due to longer lifespans and more widespread testing.
The charity predicts that 14% of boys born in 2015 will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their life — about one in seven.
For those born in 1990, the figure is only 5%, or one in 20.
The number of men being diagnosed today has already escalated sharply, to around 41 000 cases, compared with 15 000 a quarter of a century ago.
Three-quarters of the cases are found in men aged over 65 years.
In part the rise is due to increasing lifespans, as more men reach the age when the cancer is likely to develop, where once they would have died earlier.
But more men are also being diagnosed at a younger age after being tested for prostate specific antigen. High levels of PSA in the blood are linked to the cancer.
The test is far more widely used than in the past, boosting diagnosis rates. But it cannot distinguish between life-threatening and less aggressive tumours. This means some men unnecessarily suffer such side-effects of treatment as impotence and incontinence.
Death rates from prostate cancer have fallen 18% in the last 20 years, to around 10 700 fatalities a year. The improved survival has been driven by earlier diagnosis and new drug treatment.
A hormone-blocking treatment that prevents male hormones fuelling prostate tumours is now both more widespread and prescribed earlier than it was in the 90s.
A new range of drugs has also been proven to prolong life, including abiraterone, which last year was approved for NHS patients with advanced disease.
Last week it was licensed for use in men at an earlier stage.
Sarah Cant of Prostate Cancer UK said: ‘The number of men being diagnosed is rising at an alarming rate.
“It is more urgent than ever that prostate cancer is higher up the nation’s health agenda. Due to a significant legacy of under-investment, men with prostate cancer are faced with diagnostic tests and treatments decades behind where we need to be.”
Professor Malcolm Mason of Cancer Research UK said: “We’re detecting more cases of prostate cancer than ever before. And we’re carrying out an intensive amount of research to find better methods than PSA to distinguish between the minority of cases that are life-threatening and need treatment — the vipers — from the majority that don’t — the grass snakes.
“Targeting the tests at men who have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer might be a better approach than screening all men.”
HIGH TESTOSTERONE LEVELS MAY INHIBIT HAIR GROWTH
Going bald early may be linked to developing prostate cancer at an earlier age, according to new research.
In a study of nearly 10 000 men, experts in Australia found those who had lost most of their hair by 40 were far more likely to develop the disease in their fifties or sixties.
Previous studies have indicated that higher levels of the hormone testosterone may both trigger the development of cancerous cells and inhibit hair growth.