PCF Releases First National Report on Public Perception of Prostate Cancer in the United States

The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) recently released the results of its first national public awareness report about risks, actions, and attitudes toward prostate cancer in the PCF 3P Report 2018: Public Perception of Prostate Cancer.

Each year, even though more than three million men in the U.S., and 14 million globally, are diagnosed with prostate cancer, there remains a general lack of understanding and ongoing dialog about this disease. As an example, 21% of millennials thought women have a prostate.

More Report Findings

The PCF 3P Report indicates that 69% of Americans surveyed lack an understanding or believe that there are noticeable symptoms associated with the early stages of the disease. Only 42% of men have discussed screening with their doctor, citing “exhibiting symptoms” being the top reason, followed by risk factors and recommendation. Racial minorities (particularly African American men), who are considered an at-risk group, are less likely to be screened than Caucasian men, even though they are statistically more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“The PCF 3P Report illustrates the profound need for more prostate cancer health education and awareness. Men need to understand that if they are in an at-risk group or over 50, they should be discussing prostate cancer screening options with their primary care physician, as one in nine of them will be diagnosed. This is critical information that will help save men’s lives,” said Jonathan W. Simons, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of PCF.

The most recent guidelines for prostate cancer screening recommend the decision to screen for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) be based on a shared clinical decision with a health-care provider, but the PCF 3P Report indicates that this discussion is not taking place as often as it should due to lack of awareness and reticence to the perceived intrusiveness of the tests. After citing the lack of symptoms for not discussing prostate cancer with their doctors, discomfort about an inspection of the prostate (14%) and a preference “not to know” (12%) were the additional top reasons cited. It was revealed that 68% of men would be screened if they knew they could begin with a blood test.

Surveying more than 2,000 adult men and women 18 and older from across the U.S., the PCF discovered more facts about the public’s perception regarding prostate cancer:

  • A significant lack of understanding about prostate cancer and its symptoms exists among Americans, with 69% of people either unsure or believe there are noticeable symptoms for early-stage prostate cancer. Men were more likely than women (32% vs 29%) to believe there are noticeable symptoms.
  • Men are more likely to have negative feelings about going to the doctor because they believe that prostate cancer screening tests will put them in extreme discomfort and an embarrassing position. There is a lack of awareness that men can be screened for prostate cancer simply with a blood test.
  • Less than half of respondents—only 2 in 5—believe there is a link between prostate and breast cancer. Although people are beginning to understand that there are genetic links between prostate cancer and some breast cancers, most don’t know about BRCA, a mutation commonly associated with breast and ovarian cancers. Only 12% believe that the BRCA gene most related to breast cancer is also related to prostate cancer.
  • Overall, minorities are less likely than Caucasians to discuss prostate cancer screenings with their doctors, as only 2 in 5 five men have been screened for prostate cancer. Moreover, African American, Asian, and Hispanic males are less likely to have been screened. This is particularly troubling, as research shows that African American men are 74% more likely to develop prostate cancer than any other ethnicity and are also 2.4 times as likely to die from the disease than Caucasian men.
  • Millennials are underinformed when it comes to prostate cancer, as 21% believe women can get prostate cancer.
  • Recently, it was reported that for the first time in 25 years, while death rates for all other cancers continue to decline, the death rate from prostate cancer has plateaued rather then drop (based on data from 2013–2015), leading to speculation that it could be in part to changes in screening, treatment, and prevention.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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