1 in 4 Canadian men don't get early detection tests for prostate cancer: survey
A new survey from Prostate Cancer Canada suggests that one in four men ages 50 and up is not going for early detection tests known as the PSA test.
At the same time, the study found that one in three Canadian men understand that prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer for men.
“We are deeply concerned that what equates to about 1.5 million men over 50 in Canada are not seeking a PSA test” says Stuart Edmonds, Vice President, Research, Health Promotion And Survivorship, Prostate Cancer Canada.
The organization says the gap between awareness and action shows that Canadian men are in denial about the importance of early testing.
Toronto-resident Kate Black has seen the harm that delaying testing can do in her own family.
In 2015, her father was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer at the age of 59.
“He was seemingly very healthy. He was still playing soccer and hockey and he was working outdoors a lot,” she says.
She said her father never felt the need to go for a test until it was too late.
In 2017, Black moved up her wedding plans so her father could attend. He died a couple of weeks later.
“He was young; he was 62. I had just gotten married a few weeks prior. My brother was newly married as well. And I think there’s just a lot of time that we’ll never get back.”
Kate Black is seen with her father, Greg Black, on her wedding day. (Submitted)
Edmonds says early detection is key and if the cancer is caught early, prostate cancer treatment is almost 100 per cent successful.
Men with a family history of prostate cancer or who are of African descent are advised to begin going for a PSA test at age 45. At age 50, Prostate Cancer Canada says that all men should get their PSA test done.
A Canadian Task Force study in 2014 recommended against regular PSA tests, saying they did more harm than good. They cited too many false positives and unnecessary biopsies, adding that unnecessary treatments can lead to impotence, incontinence, infections and more.
The study found having PSA tests only resulted in a 0.1 per cent reduction in deaths from prostate cancer.
While Prostate Cancer Canada acknowledges that the tests are not foolproof, it says they still offer benefits in earlier detection of potential cancers.
“What’s the harm - I mean why not?” Black said.
She says both her brother and her husband have taken her father’s experiences to heart and plan to have PSA tests done when they reach the age of 50.