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Should we try to prevent prostate cancer?
In the common public perception, cancer is a bad thing: We should do all we can to cure those unlucky enough to be diagnosed with it or, better still, prevent its development in the first place. Indeed, charitable campaigns often ask us to ‘imagine a world without cancer’, ‘run cancer out of town’ or turn cancer into a big ‘zero’.
This is a perfectly understandable position for a disease such as pancreatic cancer or, say, paediatric brain tumours. Things are a little more problematic for prostate cancer. First and foremost, cancer of the prostate is almost an inevitable consequence of getting older. In one study, 80% of men (70–79 years of age) who died without a prior diagnosis of prostate cancer were found to have detectable tumours on pathologic analysis of the autopsy prostate.1 Yet prostate cancer does kill – it is the second most common cause of cancer death in males2 – …
Competing interests AV has received about $5000 in consulting fees from Glaxo Smith Kline, the manufacturers of Dutasteride.