The Majority Of Asian Men Demonstrate A Better Ability To Survive Prostate Cancer than White Men

Next to skin cancer, prostate cancer is now the most often seen form of cancer in American men and it is predicted that almost 219,000 men in the United States alone will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007 and that some 27,000 men will die from the disease.

But, as is the case with many conditions, survival rates from prostate cancer are not the same everywhere and this fact should provide us with data that will allow us to improve our treatment options.

In a recent study data was collected on nearly 117,000 men suffering from prostate cancer (including some 108,000 white men and almost 9,000 Asians drawn from the six largest Asian ethnic groups – , Korean, Japanese, Chinese, South Asian, Filipino and Vietnamese). The study looked at survival rates and prognostic factors amongst these men.

Amongst the various findings of the study it was found that the risk profile for Asians was worse than that for white men, with Asians being more likely to suffer from advanced cases of the disease by the time of diagnosis and of being treated with a range of non-curative therapies. But, the study also showed that the survival rates amongst Asian men were either equal to or better than the rates for white men.

These results were particularly surprising when we consider that the age at which Asian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer is much higher than that for white men and that their cancers are frequently more advanced, which should clearly suggest a lower survival rate.

When the data was studied in greater detail however it was discovered that there was a marked variation between different Asian groups. As an example, Japanese-American men were thirty-four percent less likely to die from prostate cancer, while men from South Asia (including, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Bhutan) were forty percent more likely to die from the disease.

So what does this tell us? Unfortunately the answer would seem to be not a great deal. These differences are undoubtedly big enough to be significant, however the wide variation between several largely similar groups means that it is impossible to draw any real conclusions. Without doubt there are several things, such as exercise, diet and genetics, that are a factor but several of the findings seem to be almost contradictory.

In consequence, a study that it was believed would identify differences across ethic groups which would allow us to improve our treatment options has actually raised more questions that it has answered. As a matter of fact, apart from exentuating the dangers of reaching conclusions based upon too broad a group, as witnessed in the wide variation between the figures for Asian men as a whole and men from just South Asia, the study has revealed that the differences were greater than most people had thought and therefore suggest that these differences might be more significant than previously thought.

As things stand, this study does not take us any further forward however has highlighted the need for more investigation that will hopefully provide better data and permit us to exploit the better survival rates in many Asian men in drawing up treatment plans for prostate cancer.