Newly released figures showing a rise in the number of men with advanced prostate cancer have laid bare long-simmering resentment among patient advocates who feel the nation's leading cancer group has largely ignored their concerns for years.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) this month revealed what it called "alarming" news about prostate cancer: After two decades of decline, the number of men diagnosed with the disease in the United States rose by 15% from 2014 to 2019.
"Most concerning," according to the group's CEO Karen Knudsen, PhD, MBA, is that the increase is being driven by diagnoses of advanced disease.
"Since 2011, the diagnosis of advanced-stage (regional- or distant-stage) prostate cancer has increased by 4%–5% annually, and the proportion of men diagnosed with distant-stage disease has doubled," said Knudsen at a press conference this month concerning the figures. "These findings underscore the importance of understanding and reducing this trend."
The increase, which works out to be an additional 99,000 cases of prostate cancer, did not take the ACS by surprise; the group has been predicting a jump in diagnoses of the disease, which is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer, and the second most common cause of cancer death for that group.
The ACS announced a new action plan, "Improving Mortality from Prostate Cancer Together" — or IMPACT — to address the rise, especially in Black men, and to curb the increasing rate of advanced, difficult-to-treat cases.
"We must address these shifts in prostate cancer, especially in the Black community, since the incidence of prostate cancer in Black men is 70% higher than in White men, and prostate cancer mortality rates in Black men are approximately two-to-four times higher than those in every other racial and ethnic group," William Dahut, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer for the ACS, said at the press conference. (A study published this month challenged that claim, finding that, after controlling for socioeconomic factors, race does not appear to be a significant predictor of mortality for prostate cancer.)