Lifetime risk of prostate cancer 'has trebled'

boys Estimates suggest boys will have a one in seven chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer

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Prostate cancer risk has risen to such a degree that one in every seven boys will develop it, projections suggest.

Experts say the trebling of lifetime risk - up from one in 20 in 1990 - is partly because doctors are spotting more cases and partly because men are living longer meaning more develop it.

Cancer Research UK, which compiled the data and made estimates for boys born in 2015, says although the cancer rates are rising, deaths are going down.

They have dropped by 20% in 20 years.

In 1990, prostate cancer killed about 29 men in every 100,000.

Today it claims about 10,000 lives in the UK each year - just under 24 men in every 100,000.

The challenge

Better medicines and tests now mean prostate cancers can be diagnosed and treated earlier, which improves the survival odds.

Start Quote

These stats reinforce our concerns that the number of men being diagnosed with the disease is rising at an alarming rate”

End Quote Dr Sarah Cant Prostate Cancer UK

But experts say there is much more to be done, starting with finding a more accurate way to detect the disease.

The current test, called PSA, is less than ideal and can cause men undue anxiety by showing up tumours in the prostate gland that might never go on to cause any health problem. And two out of three men with a raised PSA level do not have prostate cancer.

Prof Malcolm Mason, of Cancer Research UK, said: "We're detecting more cases of prostate cancer than ever before. And we're carrying out an intensive amount of research to find better methods than PSA to distinguish between the minority of cases that are life threatening and do need treatment - the vipers - from the majority of cases that don't - the grass snakes."

He said that targeting the tests at men who have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer might be a better approach than screening all men.

Scientists are working on new ways to detect prostate cancer, including blood tests, medical scans and urine tests.

Dr Sarah Cant, of Prostate Cancer UK, said: "Although it is heartening that prostate cancer death rates appear to have reduced over recent years, these stats reinforce our concerns that the number of men being diagnosed with the disease is rising at an alarming rate.

"With so many more men expected to be living with the disease in the future, it is more urgent than ever that prostate cancer is higher up the nation's health agenda so that men can get the world class treatment and care they deserve.

"Due to a significant legacy of underinvestment, men with prostate cancer are still faced with diagnostic tests and treatments which are decades behind where we need to be."

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