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Mortality rates from prostate cancer is higher in western US states, like Colorado

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Posted at 10:45 AM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 12:45:12-04

Editor's note: This article is the part of a monthly series of stories focused on cancer issues. Denver7 is proud to partner with the American Cancer Society, Cancer Support Community, Colorado Cancer Coalition and Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE to bring you these stories, tips and resources.

Where you live may have a great impact on your chances of dying of cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society's chief scientific officer, states in the western United States have the highest mortality rate among non-Hispanic white males in the country when it comes to prostate cancer.

Dr. William Dahut said that Colorado's mortality rate for prostate cancer is 21-22 deaths per 100,000 people. That's about double what the mortality rate is for the same disease in Washington, D.C.

Still, Colorado's mortality rate is about half of what it is among Black men in the United States. Dahut said the mortality rate among African American men in the United States is 40 deaths per 100,000. He said Black patients are often diagnosed with more advanced stages of the disease, underscoring the need for earlier screenings.

Prostate Cancer

With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. This year in Colorado, approximately 3,140 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 590 will die from the disease. The chance of getting prostate cancer increases as men age, and most prostate cancers are found in men over 65. Having a close relative with prostate cancer increases a man’s risk. African American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry are also more likely to develop prostate cancer than men of other races.

The American Cancer Society recommends men make informed decisions with their physician about whether to be screened for prostate cancer, while also getting information on the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening. Screening discussions should take place at age 50 for men at average risk, at age 45 for men at high risk and age 40 for men at higher risk, which includes men with more than one first-degree relative who was diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age.

Screening guidelines

Considering that cancer is a leading cause of death among men, and that women are 100% more likely than men to visit their doctor for a preventive exam, men need to be educated about the importance of regular cancer screenings.

Cancers that most often impact men include colorectal, prostate, lung and skin cancers. Overall, men can help reduce their risk for cancer by:

  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Moving more with regular physical activity
  • Following a healthy eating pattern

While there are no standard or routine screening tests for prostate cancer, various types of prostate cancer screenings are currently being studied, including:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE) – an internal physical examination of the prostate performed by inserting a lubricated glove finger into the rectum.
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test – a blood test measuring the level of PSA. A higher level may indicate prostate cancer, an infection or inflammation of the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
  • Prostate cancer gene 3 (PCA3) test – a test measuring the amount of PCA3 present in the urine; the higher the level, the more likely that prostate cancer is present.
  • TMPRSS2:ERG – a urine test that looks for an abnormal gene change in prostate cells that are found in 50% of all localized prostate cancers, but rarely when prostate cancer is not present.

The age at which men should discuss the need for cancer screening with their healthcare providers is based on an individual’s risk level for developing prostate cancer:

  • Average risk – men with no prostate cancer in their immediate family. Discuss screening at age 50.
  • High risk – African Americans or those with a first-degree relative (father, brother or son) who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65. Discuss screening at age 45.
  • Very high risk – those with more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65. Discuss screening at age 40.

Be sure to consult your physician on the best screening schedule for you, as he or she may recommend earlier or more frequent screening based on you or your family’s health history.

More information

To learn more about the cancers that impact men the most, visit the American Cancer Society’s website.

For questions regarding cancer screening, call askSARAH, the phone line of HCA’s cancer institute, Sarah Cannon, at 844–482–4812 to speak with a registered nurse 24/7.