More and More Younger Men Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer, Especially if a Family History

Maybe they're just getting screening when normally they wouldn't, but more and more younger men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

According to a new study, the number of younger men diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased nearly 6-fold in the last 20 years, and the disease is more likely to be aggressive in these younger men, researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have found.

Typically, prostate cancer occurs more frequently as men age into their 70s or 80s. Many prostate cancers are slow-growing and many older men diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer will end up dying from causes other than prostate cancer.


But, the researchers found, when prostate cancer strikes at a younger age, it’s likely because the tumor is growing quickly.  Cancer almost always is more aggressive in younger people.

“Early onset prostate cancer tends to be aggressive, striking down men in the prime of their life. These fast-growing tumors in young men might be entirely missed by screening because the time frame is short before they start to show clinical symptoms,” says Kathleen A. Cooney, M.D., professor of internal medicine and urology at the University of Michigan.

The treatment is equally frightening, as it often results in incontinence and/or impotence.

Men with a family history of prostate cancer have a two- to three-times greater chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. That risk increases for young men with multiple affected relatives. 

The new analysis found that men with early onset prostate cancer had more genetic variants than men diagnosed with prostate cancer at a later age.

American men have a 16 percent risk of developing prostate cancer in their lifetime, but only a 3 percent lifetime risk of dying from it. The challenge, Cooney says at newswise.com, is understanding which subset of prostate cancers are most likely to be aggressive and deadly.

“The unexpectedly poor prognosis of advanced stage early onset prostate cancer supports the idea that a new clinical subtype might exist in the subset of men with early onset prostate cancer. This subtype is more aggressive and requires more specialty expertise, including genetic sequencing,” Cooney says.

About 20,000 men will be diagnosed with early onset prostate cancer this year.








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