Prostate cancer incidence and mortality among men of East Asian ethnicity

Historically there has been a perception that risk for diagnosis with and death from prostate cancer among men of East Asian ethnicity was lower than that among men of European/Caucasian ethnicity.

A new study by Monn et al. in the journal Urologic Oncology has recently suggested that our prior perceptions may not be as accurate as we thought, and that actually “The prevalence of prostate cancer in East Asian men is likely similar to that in Western male populations. ”

Now it should be said that this study is only a careful analysis of evolving data, and there are no good nationwide data from the majority of East Asian nations on which we can yet base actual conclusions. From that perspective it may be years before we can accurately re-compare data from East Asian male populations to male populations in places like the US and Europe. On the other hand, Monn et al. state that prostate cancer is now the fourth leading cause of death among men in Shanghai, China (although maybe that should be the fourth leading cause of “cancer-related death” as opposed to all deaths). It is also the case that more males of East Asian origin are living longer today (as is also the case in the Western world), and this would inevitably add to the potential risk for diagnosis with and death from prostate cancer since its incidence is age-related.

A decade or so from now, we may be in a better position to draw some real conclusions about the similarities and differences between risk for and mortality from prostate cancer between Western/Caucasian populations and Eastern/Asian populations. In the meantime, Monn and her colleagues suggest that,

Urologists in Western countries should screen East Asian men for prostate cancer using the same standards as used for Western men.

If Monn and her colleagues are correct, their hypothesis might actually help to resolve the long-recognized but odd finding that prostate cancer was an increased risk for men of East Asian origin who moved to live in Western nations like the USA by comparison to comparable men in East Asia. That finding may have had more do do with the probability of diagnosis and increased life expectancy than it had to do with real clinical risks.

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