The Quest to Raise Prostate Cancer Awareness

190,000 men will be diagnosed with the disease this year in the U.S.

By Hanan Goldberg, MD


Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and is the second most common cause of cancer death in the U.S. More than 190,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year in the U.S., with almost one in nine men being afflicted by this disease in their lifetime.

More than 30,000 men will die from prostate cancer this year, with a prostate cancer-specific death occurring every 16 minutes.

Most commonly, prostate cancer manifests as a localized silent disease, which progresses slowly with minimal or no symptoms. Once cancer has spread out of the prostate to local organs or bones, symptoms become more prevalent. Due to the nature of this disease, only active screening can lead to early diagnosis. Long-term studies have demonstrated an approximate 30% decrease in prostate cancer mortality with screening and early detection.

Screening of prostate cancer is relatively simple, performed with a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a blood test for prostate-specific antigen or PSA.

According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines, men over 45 should discuss prostate screening with their physicians. For men at increased risk (known family history, known genetic risk factors, or African descent), discussion about screening should start even earlier, at the age of 40.

Localized prostate cancer treated at an early stage has been shown to have a five-year cancer-free survival rate of almost 100%. Nowadays, there are various treatment strategies available, ranging from active surveillance (frequent monitoring of the disease with no active treatment) to surgery or radiation.

Unfortunately, men are known for not actively seeking preventive care. Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, men have been even more reluctant to go to clinics and hospitals and undergo screening for prostate cancer.

This is unfortunate as prostate cancer — as many other diseases — continues to rise in prevalence and affect more men. Severtal attempts have been made through various methods to raise awareness of this prevalent cancer and promote screening and early diagnosis. The implementation of prostate cancer screening has been one of the main reasons for the decrease in cancer-specific death by more than 50% from 1993 to 2017.

As a man, father and son to a prostate cancer survivor, and as an active uro-oncologist treating prostate cancer patients, I implore all men older than 45 to go and get screened for prostate cancer as soon as they can. Help us raise awareness and spread the word. Please join our important quest to fight this disease by reaching out to more men and improving early diagnosis rates.

Physician Hanan Goldberg is an uro-oncologist with Upstate Urologists in Syracuse. He is also assistant professor in the department of urology at Upstate Medical University. He is actively engaged in treating prostate cancer patients and his research focuses on prostate cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.