Prostate cancer death rates predicted to improve in 2020 – analysis

Prostate cancer death rates are expected to fall in the UK and across nearly all European Union countries this year due to better diagnosis and treatment, analysis suggests.

The mortality rate is predicted to decline this year by 7.1% in the EU since 2015, with 78,800 men expected to die from the disease in 2020.

The age-adjusted death rate is 9.95 per 100,000 men for this year, compared to 10.71 per 100,000 in 2015.

In the UK, the researchers forecast there will be 11.99 prostate cancer deaths per 100,000 men in 2020, compared to 13.25 per 100,000 in 2015, a drop of 9.5% when adjusted for age.

The calculations are based on cancer death certification and population figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Eurostat databases for 1970-2015 and have been age-standardised – a technique epidemiologists use to allow populations with different age profiles to be compared.

Poland is the only country where the prostate cancer death rate is rising, with a predicted death toll of 6,100 men by the end of 2020.

Professor Carlo La Vecchia, of the University of Milan’s School of Medicine in Italy, who led the study, said: “Across the EU as a whole, the key message from these prostate cancer death rates is to adopt up-to-date surgery and radiotherapy techniques, together with newer androgen deprivation therapy.

“This may have a relevant impact on prostate cancer mortality even in the absence of cure, since a proportion of elderly men may survive long enough to die from other causes.

“The prostate specific antigen test, PSA, may also play a role, but it is difficult to quantify this at present.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. In the UK, around one in 8 men will get the disease in their lifetime.

While prostate cancer death rates are falling, the number of men dying from the disease, however, is predicted to increase as the ageing population continues to grow.

In 2015, 74,998 men died from the disease in the EU compared to 78,800 forecast to die in 2020.

And in the UK alone, 11,827 men died in 2015 compared to 12,000 predicted to die from prostate cancer this year.

Commenting on the research, Dr Matthew Hobbs, deputy director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, who was not involved in the analysis, said: “We know that research carried out over the past 20 years has led to improvements in diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.

“It is great to see that that research has reduced the death rate.

“However, with incidence of prostate cancer rising in the UK, and the number of men reaching an age that increases their risk, combined with faster progress in other diseases, we need much bigger and quicker reductions in the death rate to stop the number of prostate deaths continuing to rise every year.”

Meanwhile, figures show death rates are rising in women in the EU for lung and pancreatic cancers, with a predicted increase of 6% in lung cancer and 1.2% in pancreatic cancer between 2015 and 2020.

The findings from the 10th year of the annual predictions led by Prof Carlo La Vecchia are published in the journal Annals of Oncology.