Early detection barriers emerge in new report on prostate cancer

    Experts concerned treatment and prognosis could be hindered

    TORONTO, Sept. 11 /CNW/ - A new report card released today by the
Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada shows that Canadian men 45 years
of age and older and their doctors are not making the grade when it comes to a
number of key factors that support early detection of prostate cancer.
    According to the Foundation, only 22 per cent of men aged 45 or older can
accurately assess their risk of developing prostate cancer. Of greater concern
is that only half of all middle-aged men in Canada aged 45-54 and their
doctors are having the necessary dialogue about the disease.
    "The findings of this report are cause for concern as prostate cancer not
only poses the greatest cancer threat to men in this country, but has a high
cure rate if caught and treated early," explains John Blanchard, President and
CEO, Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada. "In the last 20 years,
we've seen the new cases of prostate cancer in Canada nearly double. This
means we must be far more vigilant in disease screening and early detection
among men when they're in their forties versus waiting until they reach
    Another worrisome finding according to Blanchard is that women - the
primary gatekeepers for family health - report poorer understanding of the
disease than their male counterparts, significantly under-estimating their
spouses' odds of developing prostate cancer. Only nine per cent of women are
able to correctly assess their partners' risk. Women, in fact, report much
higher knowledge on heart disease, and greater understanding of other cancers
such as breast and skin cancer. Among both men and women 45-64 years of age,
57 per cent report having only "some to no understanding" of prostate cancer
disease detection and treatment.

    Report card on prostate cancer knowledge and detection

    Canadian men 45+:                                                Making
                                                                   the grade?
    Believe early testing results in more effective
    treatment                                               92%         A
    Had doctor speak to them about prostate cancer/care     64%         C
        -  Between ages 45-54                               49%         F
    Disagree that prostate cancer only a problem for
    "very old"                                              60%         C
    Were tested in the last year via:
    -  PSA                                                  39%         F
    -  Digital rectal exam                                  33%         F
    Can accurately assess their disease risk                22%         F
    Footnote: 2007 research conducted among 1,135 Canadians aged 45 and
    older; 626 men, 509 women. Statistical accuracy +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of

    Breaking down the prostate cancer detection barriers

    The Foundation recommends that at age 40 all men begin to talk to their
doctor about their prostate cancer risk and early detection. By age 45, it
recommends men undergo an annual prostate examination, including a digital
rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. While PSA
testing on its own is recognized to be an imperfect detection tool, many
leaders in the prostate cancer field believe it plays an important screening
role, including Dr. Michael Pollak, MD, FRCPC, a member of the Foundation's
Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee, and medical oncologist at the Sir
Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.
    "In men with prostate cancer, a rapid rise in PSA has been clearly
demonstrated to be associated with aggressive prostate cancer," says
Dr. Pollak. "Furthermore, by the time someone developed advanced prostate
cancer, the PSA is almost always very high. The widespread use of PSA testing,
along with the DRE, has resulted in the disease being diagnosed at a stage
when it is much more curable. In turn, death from prostate cancer has dropped
over 25 per cent in the past nine years in North America. This is a
significant advance in the field of cancer and unfortunately has been
overshadowed by the debate over PSA testing."
    According to the Foundation, the report card revealed a less than
desirable use of PSA and DRE tests across Canada, even among older men. While
57 percent of males 45 years of age and older say that their doctor has
recommended a PSA test, and 64 per cent reporting they've undergone a DRE
test, yet under 40 per cent report receiving either test in the last year. A
similar study by the Foundation in 2005 indicates a drop of 8 per cent in
males reporting that they have received a DRE.
    "We must continue to be vigilant in early detection. To decrease our use
of PSA testing will result in the majority of men with a potentially curable
disease being diagnosed too late," says Dr. Pollak. "The solution is to
continue to encourage men to have the test done, but to be much more selective
about who is treated."
    Foundation CEO and President, John Blanchard, says that the new report
also has some good news, pointing out a number of positive indicators that
have traditionally served as detection barriers.
    "We found that nine in 10 men are now willing to undergo a DRE, if it
helps them avoid death from prostate cancer," Blanchard explains. He further
explains that the majority of men are willing to pay for PSA tests in
provinces like Ontario where it is not covered by the provincial government.
Only a minority of men currently believe that prostate cancer testing often
leads to unnecessary surgery.
    "These are positive signals that public education does break down
misperception and detection barriers," says Blanchard. "The challenge moving
forward is to continue to increase knowledge levels about prostate cancer
among not only men but women, as important family gatekeepers of men's

    About the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada

    The Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada is the leading national
organization devoted solely to eliminating prostate cancer. Its mission is to
fund research into the causes, cure, and prevention of the disease. Prostate
cancer is the number one cancer threat to Canadian men. It will afflict one in
eight men in their lifetime. The Foundation is committed to changing this
reality. For information about prostate cancer or the Prostate Cancer Research
Foundation of Canada, visit www.prostatecancer.ca, email
info@prostatecancer.ca or call toll-free 1-888-255-0333.
    September 17-24, 2007 is Prostate Cancer Awareness Week (PCAW) in Canada.
The Foundation wishes to thank its PCAW sponsors: Golf Town, Mercedes-Benz,
Haggar Canada and Shoppers Drug Mart.

For further information:

For further information: or to schedule an interview, please contact:
Lauren McConnell or Nichola Rochon, PraxisPR, (905) 949-8255 ext. 227 or 225,
lauren@praxispr.ca or nichola@praxispr.ca; Greg Sarney or Sharon Bala, The
Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada, (416) 441-2131 ext. 230 or 240,
greg.sarney@prostatecancer.ca or sharon.bala@prostatecancer.ca

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