The Hong Kong Hospital Authority has reported a growing trend of younger men being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Over the past decade, the number of patients under 64 years old has tripled.
The disease, normally diagnosed at age 70 or above before the year 2011. But youngest prostate cancer patient in Hong Kong today is 47 years old, according to the Hospital Authority.
Of the 1,631 new cases reported in 2012, 323 of them were patients below the age of 64, according to Center for Health Protection.
Although researchers haven’t yet identified the exact cause of prostate cancer, a Western lifestyle, such as A high-fat and low-fiber diet along with a lack of regular exercise, may have contributed to the trend, according to Ms Kennis Chang Hsin-yun, Education Officer of Hong Kong Anti-Cancer Society.
“Prostate cancer is well known to be more prevalent in Western men, the increasing trend in Hong Kong may be related to the Westernized dietary habit that more people are adopting now,” said Dr Cheung Man Chiu, a urologist at Central Urology Clinic
“Increasing public awareness of the disease has also led to more voluntary screening at a younger age, thus more cases are discovered and recorded,” said Ms Kennis Chang.
“Early detection at a curable stage is the key point,” said Dr Cheung. “Prostate cancer has a very sensitive cancer marker, which can be identified using only needs a simple blood test.”
At least three-quarters of the prostate-cancer patients in Hong Kong are diagnosed at the early stage, meaning they have the option of surgery to remove the prostate gland or receive curative radiation as treatment.
“Patients, however, must seek advice from doctors and discuss with their families before making any decisions regarding treatment plans,” said Mr Kennis Chang.
Mr Yang Ziguang, a prostate cancer survivor, advice other patients not to be afraid of surgeries.
“I used to be afraid of surgeries and just want to take medicines,” said Mr Yang. “But clearly, I feel much better after surgery.”
“Cancer patients may experience low self-esteem as they lose the ability to work and would blame themselves for becoming a burden to their families,” said Ms Chang.
“Learning enough about prostate cancer would make them feel less scared and comfortable when making decisions,” said Ms Chang. “Having a better idea of what to expect from treatment and life after treatment can make you feel more in control.”
Video & Photo: Julianna Wu
Reporting: Charlotte Yang
Writing: Sharon Shi