Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect Canadian men. One in seven men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime — an estimated 23,600 Canadian men this year.

Yet the awareness of the disease is not there. An online poll conducted for Prostate Cancer Canada among men aged 18+ found that over half — 55 percent —either didn’t know or under-estimated a man’s lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer. Only 16 percent of respondents were able to identify correctly that a man’s lifetime risk of prostate cancer is one in seven.

Through the launch of new prostate cancer testing recommendations, as well as advocacy and awareness efforts, Prostate Cancer Canada is working to relieve confusion, uncertainty and fear among Canadian men and promote engaged and informed healthcare advocates.

“One in seven men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime – an estimated 23,600 Canadian men this year.”

Men need to get checked

This fall Prostate Cancer Canada released new recommendations on testing for prostate cancer: men should get a baseline Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer in their 40s.

If they are at high risk, they should talk to their doctor earlier about prostate cancer. The decision to end PSA testing should be based on individual risk, rather than an arbitrary cut-off such as age 70, and should be a shared decision determined by a man and his primary care provider.

We believe it is critical for men to initiate important discussions with their healthcare providers. Untreated and late-stage prostate cancer can have devastating physical and psychosocial effects, so men need to become informed healthcare consumers.

"You are not alone, we are not alone; we are all working together to raise awareness, initiate conversations, provide support, and promote change to reduce the suffering caused by this disease."

Many aspects of prostate cancer

Ultimately, the conversation around prostate cancer focuses on three broad themes, including:

Social:  We cannot stress enough the importance of raising awareness about prostate cancer and having conversations about men’s health. Men are notoriously bad at talking about health and we need to change that. Quite simply, talking more about prostate cancer will save lives.

Scientific: Through the careful stewardship of funds raised for prostate cancer, Prostate Cancer Canada applies a rigorous review process to direct resources to programs that support research and that will have the greatest potential to improve prostate cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment and to better manage survivorship. This is in addition to raising awareness and educating people about prostate cancer.

Mental: We need to reduce any stigma surrounding prostate cancer by providing support for patients and their circle of care. We want men, caregivers, patients, partners and survivors to know that there are many avenues of support of which we encourage men to take advantage. Such resources can provide answers to questions or a forum for general discussion, listening and sharing.

Promote change

Finally a personal message from me, but also from everyone at Prostate Cancer Canada: you are not alone, we are not alone; we are all working together to raise awareness, initiate conversations, provide support, and promote change to reduce the suffering caused by this disease.