Action needed to cut prostate cancer deaths


Prostate cancer is the fourth most common cause of male deaths and more must be done improve survival rates, by detecting it early.

Prostate cancer has the dubious distinction of being fourth most common cause of male deaths overall, that’s ahead of coronary heart disease, lung cancer and cerebrovascular disease with more than 3,000 deaths a year, Associate Professor Anthony Lowe, CEO of Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia told an industry briefing today.

“We need to focus resources on making sure we are treating the advanced form of the disease as effectively as possible. It is literally a matter of life and death,” says Prof Lowe.

Part of the challenge, Prof Lowe says,  is to consider key learnings for prostate cancer from co-ordinated efforts to reduce the impact of other diseases around the world.

“If a concerted international effort could be mobilised—similar to the HIV/AIDS program from decades ago—could we stop men dying from prostate cancer? It’s not so much about a cure but rather delaying the onset of advanced metastatic prostate cancer. We owe it to men with advanced prostate cancer to explore this kind of concerted effort,” says Prof Lowe.

Research is now emerging that shows new treatments administered in new ways have the potential to significantly increase what are currently poor survival rates of men with advanced prostate cancer.

Professor Paul De Souza, foundation professor of medical oncology at University of Western Sydney and Ingham Institute, Liverpool Hospital said there are exciting clinical options emerging for the future.

“Clearly, we need to be very diligent in assessing the side-effect implications of introducing new medicines in different sequences. Keeping men alive is important but so is quality of life.”

“The key areas of research are looking at the use of chemotherapy earlier, the use of chemotherapy in combination with other medicines, new therapies in different sequences/combinations and the prospect of introducing new therapies prior to chemotherapy.”

“Men don’t seek help and so don’t get the support they need. Pharmacists can get a message out there that prostate cancer is a serious problem and to get to a doctor for a complete health check that includes a prostate cancer check,” he says.

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