How We Can Solve the Increase in Prostate Cancer Deaths?

A question I’ve often heard so far in the New Year is “What is causing the rise in prostate cancer deaths?” Part of the answer is that the risk of prostate cancer increases with age, and Baby Boomers are wading deeper into the risk pool. 

However, the leading factor is the massive confusion around guidance for prostate cancer screening. As of recent, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, a government-appointed panel, has been the main driver of this misalignment by recommending against testing for the disease. Not only has this contributed to the increase in deaths and a flattening of mortality rates, but some doctors also elect not to screen. A few physicians have landed in legal trouble for disregarding screening or the PSA test, as a Vietnam Vet was recently awarded nearly $2M when his doctors ignored his PSA test results. 

These deficiencies in the urgency and clarity around advising men to get tested for prostate cancer has resulted in more men being diagnosed later, which has led to more deaths. It is important to get beyond the headlines and focus on eliminating barriers to testing. At ZERO, we will focus on three important measures to solve the problem: 

  • State Screening Mandates
    When it comes to prostate cancer, early detection can be the difference between life and death. Cancer-screening services reduce disease-related morbidity and mortality but many patients do not receive cancer-screening services as recommended. Cost is often a barrier, especially for patients whose insurance does not cover screening services. ZERO is working on a state-by-state effort to remove all cost-sharing barriers to ensure access to vital prostate cancer screenings.
  • PSA Screening for HIM
    ZERO is spearheading a bipartisan effort to introduce the PSA Screening for HIM Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The PSA Screening for HIM Act would allow men with the highest risk (African American or those with a direct genetic link) for aggressive prostate cancer to receive screenings without cost-sharing, regardless of their state of residence. This act is critical to the livelihood of men at high risk for prostate cancer and will bring the importance of early detection to the national stage.
  • Research Projects Later this year, ZERO is launching a new research initiative focused on improving the screening and diagnosis of prostate cancer. Our aim is to find new testing methods and speed the discovery methods of detecting aggressive prostate cancer and which treatments have the best chance to improve survival outcomes for each patient.

I’m optimistic that a change will come, but it takes your help to make it happen. I urge you to join other caring and energized individuals at the ZERO Prostate Cancer Summit in February. There, a diverse community of researchers, physicians, cancer survivors, patients, and advocates, will work together to take steps toward ending this awful disease. 

Written by: Jamie Bearse, CEO, Spokesperson, ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer

Source: "How We Can Solve The Increase In Prostate Cancer Deaths | ZERO - The End Of Prostate Cancer". 2020. ZERO - The End Of Prostate Cancer