258,000 prostate cancer deaths worldwide in 2008


The recently announced GLOBOCAN 2008 assessment of the worldwide burden of cancer includes a global estimate of 258,000 deaths from prostate cancer in 2008, and a global incidence of 913,000 cases of prostate cancer that same year.

GLOBOCAN 2008 is a project of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Cancer data is available by country and region as well as by type of cancer. However, you can just click on the following link to view the basic global prostate cancer data.

Based on these data, worldwide, prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer diagnosed in men, the fifth most common cancer overall, and the sixth leading cause of death from cancer in men. The fact that prostate cancer is “only” the sixth leading cause of death from cancer overall may come as a surprise to some readers, since it is the second leading cause of cancer death among males in the USA. However, in many parts of the world, there are multiple reasons why men may die of other causes — including other forms of cancer — long before they can have prostate cancer diagnosed or they are likely to die from this form of cancer.

The GLOBOCAN 2008 database confirms that prostate cancer mortality rates are generally higher in populations which are of predominantly black African origin (such as the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa), very low in Asia, and of intermediate values in Europe countries and Oceania. It is interesting to note that while the incidence of prostate cancer is 3.2 times higher in the USA than it is in Russia (as just one example), the mortality rates from prostate cancer in these two nations are very similar (at 9.7/100,000 in the USA and 10.8/100,000 in Russia). This reflects the fact that PSA testing is significantly more common in the USA, but does not appear necessarily to translate into a major impact on mortality rates — even though men in the USA tend to have a notably higher life expectancy than men in Russia.

8 Responses

  1. This statement is misleading:

    The fact that prostate cancer is “only” the sixth leading cause of death from cancer overall may come as a surprise to some readers, since it is the second leading cause of cancer death among males in the USA.

    Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in the USA only in men over the age of 70. For younger men it is the fifth leading cause of death from cancer overall and well down on the list of all causes of death — about one third of the accidental deaths, for example.

  2. Dear Terry:

    I am more than willing to accept that your additional comment adds to the original statement. But the original statement is not “misleading.” It is factually accurate. It is also factually accurate that many men (and particularly many men over 70 years of age) who have treatment for early stage prostate cancer may not need to have such treatment because their risk for prostate cancer-specific mortality and for metastatic disease is low.

  3. Well, Mike,

    I think that a statement such as “Men over six foot tall beat their wives” would be construed as misleading. It may be true of some men over six foot tall, but not all.

    Prostate cancer is not the the second leading cause of cancer death among males in the USA, merely for a relatively small subset.

    Prostate men need enlightening, not frightening

  4. Terry: The statement “Men over six foot tall beat their wives” is not factually accurate. It implies (inaccurately) that all men over 6 feet tall beat their wives.

    I am not disagreeing with you that the majority of men who die of prostate cancer in the USA do so at 70+ years of age. However, the original statement is no more “misleading” than “All men die.” When and how is supportive to that primary fact.

    If you want to be strictly accurate, I certainly accept the statement that “prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among males in the USA — and the vast majority of the men who die of prostate cancer in the USA will be greater than 70 years of age at the time of their death.”

    Having said that, I would point out that there are men in the USA who die of prostate cancer in their 40s. It is a relatively small number of such men each year, but would you deny them and their families the recognition of that reality?

  5. … would you deny them and their families the recognition of that reality?

    Of course not, but that is a non-sequitor, as you know well.

    Prostate cancer is certainly not the second leading cause of cancer death among males in their 40s in the USA and the constant fear that this does in fact apply to them is one of the factors that drives the decision towards early, and often unnecessary treatment.

    And before anyone intervenes to say that they had treatment in their 40s and this saved their life, I am not saying, and have never said, that no-one in their 40s should be ignored or not treated. All I am trying to say is that they deserve to be informed, not frightened.

  6. No Terry … it is not, by any means, a non-sequitor. It is very much part of the context.

    I am not for one moment suggesting that men do not deserve to be fully informed … and I find it hilarious that you and I are even quibbling over this. But you are suggesting that a fact is not a fact. And I have never suggested for one second that prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death for men in their 40s, so I don’t understand why you bring that up.

    What is critical here is that each individual man is appropriately educated and informed based on his personal and individual situation. How you and I would educate a 40-year-old diagnosed tomorrow with Gleason 6, T1c disease is very different from how we would educate a 75-year-old with the same diagnosis, and that is appropriate. But facts are still facts. It is still a simple fact that prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in American males (of all ages, up to and including those over 100 years of age). It is also a simple fact (which I have never disputed) that the majority of these men are over 70 at the time of their deaths.

    You are convinced that emphasizing this will change the fear that American men have of prostate cancer. After 25 years living here, I am convinced that that is not the case. Cancer has an extraordinary emotional hold on the psyche of the average American, in a way that is very different from what I have seen in the occupants of the other countries of the world where I have lived for extended periods. Come live here for a while and perhaps you will be able to understand why I am trying to explain this to you. It is not about frightening them. It is too late. They are already scared to death. Telling them they will only die of the disease when they are over 70 doesn’t help one scrap. Death from any reason is “un-American.” Death from cancer is un-American and unacceptable — at any age.

  7. Seems I’ve wasted a good deal of my time then — and continue to do so. I thought providing unbiased information would help men understand more about all their options. Fool that I am.

    I wonder why there seems to be a move towards AS if all the men in America are scared witless?

  8. It is also a fact that the mortality rate for prostate cancer is higher in the US than the mortality rate for breast cancer. There is a huge fuss about breast cancer — and so there should be — but for some reason much less of a fuss than there needs to be about prostate cancer. It doesn’t seem to me to be a good idea to play down the risks at all for either disease.

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