Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect Canadian men; one in eight will be diagnosed during his lifetime. No diagnosis is confined to the individual, either. Each time a man receives the news, the diagnosis and its corresponding anxieties, fears, and uncertainties are shared with spouses, loved ones, and friends. Prostate cancer truly is a disease that affects us all.

The good news is that when prostate cancer is detected early, more than 90 percent of men survive. Over the course of the last 20 years, the mortality rate from prostate cancer has been reduced by approximately 40 percent. This number is attributed largely to early detection and advances in treatment. This change signifies that a greater number of men are now present for birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and other milestones to celebrate life’s most treasured moments with family and friends.

"The good news is that when prostate cancer is detected early, more than 90 percent of men survive."

While we have undoubtedly come a long way in just two decades, too many lives are still being taken from us by this disease. In 2015 alone, an estimated 4,100 Canadian men will die from prostate cancer, leaving irreparable holes in the hearts and minds of those dearest to them.

Frustratingly, the survival rate could very easily be higher. Many men are simply not taking it upon themselves to start a conversation with their doctors to better understand their own personal risk. This is why spouses, loved ones, and friends can play a critical and preventive role by encouraging the men in their lives to initiate a shared decision-making process with their doctors.

What does this involve?

In agreement with prostate cancer experts, Prostate Cancer Canada advocates for a “smart screening” approach, which takes a man’s personal risk into account by considering factors such as age, family history, and ethnicity. This involves getting a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test at age 40 to establish a baseline number, which is then incorporated into a man’s risk profile to determine when his next PSA test needs to occur.

"Rather than testing every man annually, smart screening involves a tailored approach to prostate cancer screening, with individualized follow-up and care."

Rather than testing every man annually, smart screening involves a tailored approach to prostate cancer screening, with individualized follow-up and care. In a case where prostate cancer is discovered to be aggressive, the likelihood that it will be caught early enough to treat will be significantly increased with the PSA test. On the other hand, if prostate cancer is discovered to be slow-growing, the Canadian-developed method of “active surveillance” can be employed to avoid hastily over-treating less-aggressive tumours.

With our support and encouragement, each one of us can help ensure that more men are not only detecting prostate cancer early but are also being empowered with the information they need to make the choices that are right for them.
Prostate Cancer Canada will continue educating the public, supporting men, and their loved ones, and investing the generous donations of Canadians into the most promising life-giving research in the hope of increasing the number of men supported, cases treated, and lives saved. We are all in this together.