In the US, September is recognised as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and Prostate Health Month. Prostate cancer affects over three million men worldwide and is the second most frequent cancer among men.

GlobalData epidemiologists estimate that there were over 480,000 new cases of prostate cancer in the seven major markets (7MM: the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and Japan) in 2018. The incidence of prostate cancer varies worldwide, and the variation in rates may be attributed to prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, a prostate cancer screening test.

Prostate-specific antigen testing

Research has found that a proportion of the cases in the US and EU could be attributed to the over-diagnosis of prostate cancer through the extensive use of PSA tests. The PSA test has a low specificity, which results in a high number of false positives and leads to a large proportion of negative biopsies. Although a PSA test is a common screening test for prostate cancer, a new blood test may be more efficient at screening and diagnosis of the disease.

A recent study published in the Journal of Urology by researchers from Queen Mary University of London has found that a simple, new blood test can accurately detect aggressive prostate cancer by detecting circulating tumour cells. The new test, in combination with the PSA test, could help avoid unnecessary biopsies and over-treatment.

GlobalData epidemiologists have calculated the diagnosed incidence of prostate cancer among men ages 30 years and older in the 7MM. The incidence rates will continue to increase in each market through 2028. With the increasing incidence of prostate cancer, the new blood test may be necessary to reduce the number of invasive procedures, over-diagnosis, and unnecessary treatments. Although there are two different screening tests for prostate cancer — a PSA test or digital rectal exam — there is no standard or routine test. Studies are currently being conducted on screening tests to determine which are more accurate. PSA tests are controversial because of potential harm that may occur due to over-diagnosis, which occurs in approximately 40% of screened cases.

The European Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer, which was published in 2014, concluded that although early screening tests may reduce prostate cancer mortality, there are still downsides to screening because of the harm it can do to men who were exposed to a treatment that would not have affected their cancer type. The problems with current screening methods and lack of consensus on screening recommendations highlight the need for more accurate screening and diagnosis tools where the treatment benefits outweigh the potential harm.

Related reports

GlobalData (2019). Prostate Cancer: Global Drug Forecast and Market Analysis to 2028, August 2019, GDHC162PIDR

GlobalData (2019). Expert Insight: Market Growth in Prostate Cancer Largely Attributed to Label Expansions, August 2019, GDHC2628EI

GlobalData (2019). Expert Insight: Late-Stage Pipeline Holds Promise, Bringing Precision Medicine to Prostate Cancer, July 2019, GDHC2537EI

GlobalData (2019). Expert Insight: Higher Proportion of Incident Cases of Prostate Cancer Diagnosed at Stage IV in the US, May 2019, GDHC2444EI