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1.5 million Canadian men over 50 at unnecessary risk for prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer Canada recently asked Canadians about their knowledge of prostate cancer. The results were staggering, suggesting 1.5 million Canadian men 50+ are not seeking early prostate cancer testing through the PSA blood test. The survey*, Men At Risk: The Prostate Cancer Testing Gap, shows that while awareness about the importance of early detection is high, Canadian men 50+ are not being tested.

“The gap between awareness and action means many Canadian men are putting themselves at risk for late prostate cancer detection – when the chance of survival decreases,” says Dr. Rob Hamilton, Prostate Cancer Canada spokesperson and Urologic Oncologist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

“What’s even more troubling is almost one-third of men who know their risk is higher because of their age are not taking the initiative to see their doctors and get tested.”

Prostate Cancer Canada recommends starting PSA testing at age 50 for most men and at age 45 for men who are at an increased risk. When detected early, the survival rate for prostate cancer is close to 100%; detected late, three of four men will be lost.

Key survey findings

Canadian men aged 50+ are in denial
  • An estimated 1 in 4 (1.5 million) Canadian men over 50 are not seeking early prostate cancer testing through the PSA blood test even though:
    • 75% know that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men
    • 72% know that survival is close to 100 per cent when detected early
Canadian men and women are well aware of prostate cancer and its health effects
  • Almost one in two know someone who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer: a family member, friend or colleague
  • One in five have been closely affected by prostate cancer, meaning they have been diagnosed or have a father or brother who has been diagnosed
  • 72% know that prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men
  • 68% know that survival is close to 100% if diagnosed early
One-third know that 50-59 years old is the recommended age for a first PSA test for most men

The patient perspective

Chris Watson
Chris Watson could have benefited from early prostate cancer testing. When the Oakville, ON native turned 50 in 2010, he asked his family doctor for a PSA test; however, the doctor did not feel it was necessary. Two years later, Chris had the PSA test as part of an insurance exam. His PSA levels were high and a biopsy came back positive for prostate cancer. After following a course of treatment, which included surgery, Mr. Watson is now leading a full life.

Unfortunately, there are many Canadian men whose disease is caught too late. Kate Black’s father was one of them – after delaying because his overall health was good, he was diagnosed with late-stage prostate cancer and Kate lost her dad soon after. She is now determined that no other daughter lose their dad to this disease, and encourages men to speak with their doctor about whether the PSA test is right for them.
Kate Black and her dad on her wedding day

“This gap between knowledge and action is why Prostate Cancer Canada continues to push for men and their families to talk about the risks of prostate cancer and the importance of early detection with their health care professional,” says Peter Coleridge, President and CEO, Prostate Cancer Canada.

“Men need to take action to prevent them from dying of a largely treatable cancer.”

*This survey was developed and conducted by Prostate Cancer Canada from May – July 2019. The survey is consistent with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.37%, 19 times out of 20.

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Posted: 2019-09-26 9:00:00 AM


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