Study: Men with prostate cancer more likely to die from other causes

BOSTON — Men diagnosed with prostate cancer are less likely to die from the disease than from such preventable conditions as heart disease, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health.

Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers examined causes of death among prostate cancer cases recorded in the U.S. Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program (which includes more than 490,000 men from 1973 to 2008) and the nationwide Swedish Cancer and Cause of Death registries (which included more than 210,000 men from 1961 to 2008). They found that among men diagnosed with the disease, prostate cancer accounted for 52% and 30% of all reported deaths in Sweden and in the United States, respectively; however, only 35% of Swedish men and 16% of U.S. men diagnosed with prostate cancer died from this disease.

The researchers also noted that in both populations, the risk of prostate cancer-specific death declined, while the risk of death from heart disease and non-prostate cancer remained constant. The five-year cumulative incidence of death from prostate cancer was 29% in Sweden and 11% in the United States.

"Our results are relevant for several million men living with prostate cancer in the United States," said first author Mara Epstein, a postdoctoral researcher at HSPH. "We hope this study will encourage physicians to use a prostate cancer diagnosis as a teachable moment to encourage a healthier lifestyle, which could improve the overall health of men with prostate cancer, increasing both the duration and quality of their life."


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