While more men are being diagnosed with the prostate cancer, fewer are dying from the disease. Data from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries and the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that in 2012, incidence rates of prostate cancer will increase slightly, while death rates from the disease will decrease. In 2011, 33,720 men died from the disease, while 28,170 are expected to die in 2012 ? a more than 15% decrease. This can be attributed to both the effectiveness of early detection efforts and research that has lead to advances in treatment.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, accounting for 30% of all cancers in men and the second only to lung cancer as a leading cause of cancer deaths. “This year alone, more than 241,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 28,000 will die from the disease,” said Skip Lockwood III, CEO of ZERO, The Project to End Prostate Cancer. “We are seeing the death rate decrease, but we must remain vigilant in the fight against this disease by increasing research funding, raising awareness and education, and testing men with risk factors.”

Baby Boomers
In the U.S., a baby boomer turns 50 every 8.5 seconds, making the risk pool for prostate cancer larger and larger. ZERO provides free prostate cancer testing to at-risk men across the country through the Drive Against Prostate Cancer. Because of early detection efforts like the Drive, more than 90% of prostate cancers are discovered in the local or regional stages. When detected in these early stages, the survival rate for prostate cancer approaches 100%.

Relative Survival
Over the past 25 years, the 5-year relative survival rate for all stages of prostate cancer combined has increased from 68% to almost 100%, which can be attributed to the widespread use of the PSA blood test for the disease. According to the most recent data, 10- and 15-year relative survival rates are 98% and 91%, respectively.

New cancer drugs
Research at the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) has lead to the discovery of new drugs to fight late-stage prostate cancer. Denosumab (Xgeva?, Amgen), which is indicated for the prevention of skeletal-related events (SREs) in patients with bone metastases from solid tumors, and abiraterone acetate (Zytiga?, Janssen Biotech), both approved in the past two years, are now viable options to extend men’s lives. ZERO works with the federal government to protect the valuable bench to bedside research done at the DOD, and was instrumental in keeping the PCRP funded at $80 million for fiscal year 2012.

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Racial and ethnic disparities
For reasons that remain unclear, prostate cancer incidence rates are significantly higher in African Americans than in Caucasians, and death rates in African Americans remain more than twice as high as those in Caucasians. Other risk factors for prostate cancer include age and family history of the disease.

Other risk factors
Studies suggest that a diet high in processed meat or dairy foods may also be a risk factor. Obesity may increase the risk of aggressive prostate cancer, and obesity and smoking are associated with an increased risk of dying from the disease.

Proactive approach
ZERO believes that men should take a proactive approach to their health, and discuss prostate cancer risk factors and testing options with their doctor.

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