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Prostate cancer diagnoses decline significantly

Wednesday 23 September, 2015

New report finds drop of 28 per cent in last five years

Recent changes to the way prostate cancer is detected have led to a rapid decline in men diagnosed and treated for the disease.

Data released for the first time today in the publication Cancer in Victoria: Statistics and Trends 2014 found the number of Victorian men diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014 had dropped 28 per cent in the five years since 2009, when rates peaked.

Victorian Cancer Registry Director Helen Farrugia said changes to the way prostate cancer is detected were behind the decrease.

"The use of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test has been reducing in recent years and this is directly reflected in incidence numbers. The PSA test detects early asymptomatic cancers, which may have led to the treatment of cancers that would not otherwise have come to medical attention."

Prostate cancer continues to be the leading cancer in Victorian men, with the disease accounting for 25 per cent of all cancer diagnoses. Last year 4,066 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, with 760 deaths.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said five-year survival for prostate cancer remains high at 94 per cent, while the proportion of men who die from the disease has remained largely unchanged.

"Most at risk are older men, and those with a first-degree relative (father, brother, son) with the disease. Risk for these men is two-to-three times higher than average."

The marked reduction of diagnosed prostate cancers also means that breast cancer is now the most common cancer in Victoria.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said cancer remains the leading disease of burden in Victoria, with an average of 84 new diagnoses each day.

"Even though survival rates are at an all time high, still too many Victorians are dying of cancer."

"It's so important that Victorians remain vigilant, look for signs and symptoms, and have regular checkups."

Cancer in Victoria: Statistics and Trends 2014 also reveals:

  • Incidence of kidney cancer is increasing steadily at 2 per cent annually, which reflects increased detection through improved imaging.
  • Cancer survival continues to improve across the state. In 2009-2013, 67 per cent of Victorians with cancer survived 5 years after diagnosis, up from 63 per cent in 2004-2008.

"Cancer survival remains high which is great news for all Victorians, but the challenge now is working even harder to reduce those cancers that have low survival rates," Mr Harper said.

"Bettering our understanding of cancers, such as those impacting the brain and pancreas, and reducing mortality from these cancers will only come from continued research. This is where we can improve.

"Last year we lost another 10,744 Victorians to cancer - more than 29 people every day. We must continue to work tirelessly on finding new and improved ways to detect, treat and prevent cancer, while continuing to support those affected."