When it comes to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, I like to say I’m pro-choice. That’s because over the past 20 years, there has been an increase in options, early detection, and awareness for all aspects of the disease, and I firmly believe that men and their loved ones should be able to benefit from the complete spectrum of options.

It’s so important to raise awareness and funds for the disease. That’s crucial from a prevention standpoint, to get the message across. Those precious funds enable groundbreaking research that leads to more options for all prostate cancer patients.

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in prostate cancer care by offering minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment techniques. Indeed, the entire field of prostate cancer treatment has come a long way in offering more choice — and therefore more hope — to patients at all stages of the disease.

Treatment options

Until recently, men with advanced prostate cancer had only a few treatment options. But with the launch of the second wave of Prostate Cancer Canada and Movember-funded Translation Acceleration Grants looking at ways to accelerate new treatment options for advanced cancer into the clinics, there is new hope and increased choice. That leads to more time for advanced prostate cancer patients.

One of the most contentious issues in which choice plays a key role comes down to screening for prostate cancer using the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. The Canadian Task Force for Preventive Healthcare recently released guidelines recommending against using the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test to screen for prostate cancer. The Task Force did not suggest any other test to screen for the disease — a disease that rarely has symptoms until it is advanced. A disease for which early detection is critical — when detected early, the survival rate for prostate cancer is over 90 percent.

“Over the past 20 years, there has been a 40 percent reduction in the mortality from prostate cancer. ” 

We believe that men have a right to know their risk for prostate cancer, and the PSA test can and should be used to help determine an individual’s risk of prostate cancer. To better determine risk, we recommend that men get a baseline PSA test when they are in their 40s. That baseline PSA test value, considered along with other risk factors such as family history and age, will allow patients and physicians to have an informed discussion about appropriate follow-up. 

It allows them to review options, and make the shared decision-making process more effective. That consideration of an individual’s risk profile and options thereafter are what make up smart screening. However, if you eliminate the PSA test, you reduce the roster of options for early detection. If prostate cancer isn’t detected early, the number and effectiveness of treatment options decrease sharply.  

Over the past 20 years, there has been a 40 percent reduction in the mortality from prostate cancer. Take a second to think about that number: a 40 percent decrease. That is significant. That is tangible. That directly translates to lives saved. This achievement has been enabled by early detection and by the elements that you’ll read about in this supplement — technology, more treatment options, and better awareness. And choice. 

Supporting all the strides we have made in improving outcomes for this disease is a spectrum of options that men and their loved ones should continue to enjoy. Men and their families have a right to know their risk. Men have a right to decide how they will use that information. Men have a right to be survivors rather than a mortality statistic.

I encourage you to consume the news about prostate cancer with an open mind, to discuss your particular situation with your doctor, and to continue fighting for choice.