One out of every nine Jewish men and one in 17 Arab men are at risk of contracting prostate cancer.
Today there are 22,000 identified cases of the third-most common malignancy in Israeli males – after lung and colorectal cancer.
World Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is observed throughout September in many Western countries. The official day for awareness is September 15, but since it falls on Shabbat, the Israel Cancer Association held a seminar this week at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin.
Among those who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2005 and 2009, 11,628 either recovered or are still coping with the disease. In 2009, 2,513 new cases were diagnosed, of them 2,285 were Jews (91 percent), just 111 Arabs (4%) and 117 others (5%).
The prevalence rate of invasive prostate cancer that spreads to other parts of the body increased steadily among both Jewish and Arab men since the 1990s and reached its highest point in 2007 before declining somewhat.
In 2009, all new patients were 40 years old and above when diagnosed. It is more prevalent among those from ages 50 to 65, but the most common age for the disease to be diagnosed is between 70 and 74 in Jews and over 75 in Arabs.
The highest prevalence is seen among Jews of European and American background (65.7 per 100,000) the lowest among those of Asian background (56.5 per 100,000).
The accumulated lifetime risk is one out of 11.3 in Jewish men and one out of 5.9 in Arab men.
Despite this bad news, the survival rate over five years is increasing. The rate of men with the disease who live for five years or more after diagnosis was 93.2% between 2002 and 2004, according to the ICA, compared to only 83.6% in 1995 to 1999.
In addition, death rates according to age have declined. In 2009, 104 men died of prostate cancer – 103 of them Jews, 18 Arabs and 10 others.
Prostate cancer rates in most of Europe are very high, compared to Israel, where the prevalence is lower than in Italy, the ICA said.
Last year, the Health Ministry issued guidelines stating that there was “no justification” for using prostate-specific antigen tests to screen for prostate cancer in healthy men. It based its decision on a US government task force on the matter.
The task force said there is no proof that screening can result in earlier detection and higher survival rates.
Most men with prostate cancer die of something else, as it is usually a slowgrowing cancer and treating it can cause serious side effects such as impotence and incontinence. However, the ministry said that doctors should discuss possible tests with specific patients in accordance with their situations.