Incidence and mortality rates for prostate cancer declined again in 2008


The latest actual (as opposed to projected) data on the incidence and mortality rates for prostate cancer specifically (and cancers as a whole) continue to show steady improvements here in the US.

According to the annual analysis by Eheman et al. just published in Cancer, and based on actual data from 2008, there were continued decreases in the incidence and the mortality rates for prostate cancer during that year compared to earlier years. These decreases are observed among black and white men as well as for the male population as a whole. The actual age adjusted incidence of prostate cancer for 2008 (relative to the year 2000) was reported as 152.9 per 100,000 men overall. However, for the black male population it continues to be significantly higher at 230.8 per 100,000.

Unless you are an epidemiologist with significant training in statistics, this is a difficult paper to follow since most of the data are based on a process called joinpoint analysis (which is far beyond the capabilities of your current author to explain). It also makes these data difficulty to compare to the data originally projected for 2008 by the American Cancer Society.

While it is good to know that the incidence and mortality rates for prostate cancer are continuing to fall slowly, it is also fair to say that progress is less than dramatic, and dramatic progress is going to need diagnostic tests that are a great deal more specific and accurate than the PSA test and needle biopsies and treatments that are able to profoundly impact disease progression of the more aggressive forms of prostate cancer. In real terms, the way we treat prostate cancer today (by comparison with the ways we now treat complex cardiovascular conditions) is still rather like using a sledge hammer to open a walnut.

2 Responses

  1. FYI, this is for USA data.

    I wonder how the diagnostic trend is related to the timing and rate of PSA testing. If lots of men with latent cancer got diagnosed with prostate cancer over the previous decade, that should leave fewer men to be newly diagnosed by the end of the study period. Hopefully the mortality decline is related to increasing therapeutic efficacy.

  2. I think your optimism may be misplaced … It is likely to be counter-effected by the rapid increase in numbers of men reaching 60+ years of age as a consequence of the “baby boom” that started in 1948 and ran through the early 1960s.

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