Younger Men With Advanced Prostate Cancer Have Shorter Lifespan

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Researchers have turned a focus on why younger men with advanced prostate cancer have shorter life spans than older men who develop the disease. Paradoxically, younger men have less risk of dying from prostate cancer in general, but a review of data shows younger men with advanced prostate cancer are more likely to die sooner that older men from prostate cancer or other causes.

Daniel Lin, M.D., of the University of Washington and colleagues have begun a study into the mechanisms that shorten the lifespan of younger men with advanced prostate cancer, but not survival rates in older men. The researchers investigated age of cancer diagnosis in younger men and outcomes, extracting data from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database.

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The study showed that younger men are increasingly being diagnosed with prostate cancer, likely because of intense screening. Ten-year survival rates for young men are better than for older men with prostate cancer. Additionally, younger men usually have less aggressive forms of prostate cancer. However, young men aged 35 to 44 years with advanced prostate cancer have shorter life spans when compared to older men with similar forms of prostate cancer.

Identified for the study were 318,774 men with diagnosis of prostate cancer between 1988 and 2003. The researchers are not certain exactly why younger men die earlier from advanced prostate cancer than older men die, but believe it may be related to the type of prostate cancer – perhaps prostate cancer found in younger men is simply biologically more aggressive.

Mores studies are needed to explain shorter lifespan in younger men with advanced prostate cancer, compared to older men. Earlier detection of prostate cancer in younger men through better screening could lead to longer lives for younger men with advanced prostate cancer.

CANCER; Published Online: May 22, 2009 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.24324)

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