Healthcare Blog

Significant Changes Documented In The Profile Of Prostate Cancer Patients

June 16, 2017

New research published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Vol. 101, Issue 18) by a team of investigators at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ), shows significant changes in the profile of prostate cancer patients since the late 1980s. CINJ is a Center of Excellence of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The study, Contemporary Risk Profile of Prostate Cancer in the United States, found that patients who were diagnosed in 2004 and 2005 were younger and had earlier stage prostate cancer than those diagnosed in previous years.  The researchers utilized information from 82,541 men from the 2004-2005 population-based Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database and compared it to the 1988-1989 and 1996-1997 SEER data sets. 

According to the overall study, 94 percent of newly diagnosed patients in the 2004-2005 data set had localized early-stage prostate cancer and a median prostate specific antigen (PSA) level of 6.7.   Between the 1988-1989 and 2004-2005 periods, the average age at which men were diagnosed with prostate cancer decreased from 72.2 to 67.2 years. 

In addition, disparities between two large racial groups appear to have narrowed.  Generally, prostate cancer affects more African-American men than others, and previous studies have shown that African-American men were more likely than Caucasians to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage of the disease.  This latest research shows that racial difference narrowed considerably from 1988 to 2005.  The incidence rate of advanced prostate cancer at first diagnosis decreased from 52.7 to 7.9 per 100,000 positive cases among Caucasians. The drop in that number was even larger for African-Americans, from 90.9 to 13.3 per 100,000   The 2004-2005 data also revealed that when compared with Caucasians, African-American men were more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age (64.7 years versus 67.5 years) and to have a higher PSA level at diagnosis (7.4 versus 6.6).

Grace Lu-Yao, PhD, MPH, cancer epidemiologist at CINJ and associate professor of medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and of epidemiology at UMDNJ-School of Public Health, is the senior author of the study.  She notes national data characterizing a risk profile for prostate cancer patients has been limited.  With the SEER data representing 26 percent of the U.S. population, Dr. Lu-Yao says the study by her team represents the most comprehensive risk profile to date, but adds more needs to be done.  "It will be important to further explore whether those men being diagnosed in earlier stages ultimately will have less of a chance of dying from their disease," she noted.  "More study also is needed on whether the narrowing of the racial disparity in advanced cases of prostate cancer is ultimately accompanied by a similar trend in mortality."

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and strikes one in six men.  In New Jersey alone, 6,000 new cases of the disease are expected this year with 192,000 new cases nationally.

Along with Lu-Yao, the author team consists of Yu-Hsuan Shao, PhD, CINJ; Kitaw Demissie, MD, PhD, MPH, CINJ and UMDNJ-School of Public Health; Weichung Shih, PhD, CINJ and UMDNJ-School of Public Health; Amit R. Mehta, MD, CINJ and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Mark N. Stein, MD, CINJ and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Calpurnyia B. Roberts, PhD, CINJ; and Robert S. DiPaola, MD, CINJ and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The study was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey Core Grant and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  The print edition featuring the research will be published September 16.

The Cancer Institute of New Jersey