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Prostate Problem Guide

Many Asian Men Show A Better Ability To Survive Prostate Cancer Than White Men

Following skin cancer, prostate cancer is now the most often seen type of cancer in American men and it is estimated that close to 220,000 men in the United States alone will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007 and that approximately 27,000 men will die from the condition.

However, as is the case with many diseases, prostate cancer survival rates are not the same across the world and this fact should give us the data which will enable us to improve our treatment methods.

In a recent study data was compiled on almost 117,000 men suffering from prostate cancer (approximately 108,000 white men and almost 9,000 Asians drawn from the six largest Asian ethnic groups - Korean, South Asian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Vietnamese). The study examined both prognostic factors and survival rates for these men.

Amongst the many findings of the study it was discovered that the risk profile for Asian men was worse than that for white men, with Asians being more likely to suffer from advanced prostate cancer by the time of diagnosis and of being treated with a variety of non-curative therapies. However, the study also showed that the survival rates for Asian men were either the same as or better than those seen in white men.

These results were somewhat surprising when we consider that the age at which most Asian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer is significantly higher than that for white men and that their cancer is normally more advanced, which ought to indicate a reduced survival rate.

When the data was examined in greater detail however it was revealed that there was considerable variation between different groups of Asian men. As an example, Japanese-American men were thirty-four percent less likely to die as a result of prostate cancer, while men from South Asia (including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan) were forty percent more likely to die from the condition.

So just what does this mean? Well, unfortunately the answer would appear to be very little. These differences are undoubtedly big enough to be significant, but the wide variation between many broadly similar groups means that it is virtually impossible to draw any concrete conclusions. Without doubt there are a variety of things, such as diet, exercise and genetics, which are a factor but many of the findings seem to be almost contradictory.

In consequence, a study which it was hoped would point to differences across ethic groups which would permit us to improve prostate cancer treatment has actually produced more questions that it has answered. In truth, apart from accentuating the dangers of drawing conclusions from too large a group, as seen in the wide variation in the figures for Asian men as a whole and South Asian men, the study has revealed that the differences were greater than many people had thought and therefore suggest that these differences could be more significant than previously thought.

At the end of the day, this study does not take us any further forward but has highlighted the need for more investigation which will hopefully provide better data and allow us to take advantage of the higher survival rates in many Asian groups in designing prostate cancer treatment plans.

Further information on prostate cancer:

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