Men with Prostate Cancer Die Rather from Other Causes

Photo: Doctor advise patient

Prostate cancer is the most
frequently diagnosed form of
Luis Louro

It is the largest study to date that looks at causes of death among men with prostate cancer, and suggests that encouraging healthy lifestyle changes should play an important role in prostate cancer management.

"Our results are relevant for several million men living with prostate cancer in the United States," said first author Mara Epstein. "We hope this study will encourage physicians to use a prostate cancer diagnosis as a teachable moment to encourage a healthier lifestyle, which could improve the overall health of men with prostate cancer, increasing both the duration and quality of their life."

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed form of cancer, affecting one in six men during their lifetime. While incidence of prostate cancer has greatly increased in the United States, Sweden, and other Western countries in recent decades, the likelihood that a newly diagnosed man in these countries will die from the disease has declined. The researchers attribute this to the widespread use of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which has resulted in a higher proportion of men diagnosed with lower-risk forms of the disease.

The researchers examined causes of death among prostate cancer cases recorded in the U.S. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (over 490,000 men from 1973 to 2008) and the nationwide Swedish Cancer and Cause of Death registries (over 210,000 men from 1961 to 2008).

The results showed that during the study period, prostate cancer accounted for 52 per cent of all reported deaths in Sweden and 30 per cent of reported deaths in the United States among men with prostate cancer; however, only 35 per cent of Swedish men and 16 per cent of U.S. men diagnosed with prostate cancer died from this disease. In both populations, the risk of prostate cancer-specific death declined, while the risk of death from heart disease and non-prostate cancer remained constant. The five-year cumulative incidence of death from prostate cancer was 29 per cent in Sweden and 11 per cent in the United States.

"Our study shows that lifestyle changes such as losing weight, increasing physical activity, and quitting smoking, may indeed have a greater impact on patients' survival than the treatment they receive for their prostate cancer," said senior author Hans-Olov Adami.; Source: Harvard School of Public Health