Prostate cancer rates are expected to increase by a massive 43 per cent within the next 20 years, with 630,000 men facing twice the average risk due to family history, new data has revealed.
The number of men being diagnosed is expected to increase from more than 240,000 currently to 372,000 by 2040, according to the research.
More than 24,000 Australian men are likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and more than 3500 are expected to die.
The alarming figures have prompted the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia to call for greater awareness ahead of The Long Run campaign next month.
The foundation’s chief executive Anne Savage said prostate cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, but there had never been a publicly funded community awareness campaign targeting men at risk.
“These latest estimates suggest as many as 630,000 Australian males may face double the average risk of prostate cancer due to their family history of the disease,” she said.
“Essentially what we are facing is a tidal wave of risk.
“It’s vital that we give these men and their families all the information they need to enable early diagnosis and timely treatment.”
The figures were based on the number of Australian men diagnosed with prostate cancer over the past 40 years who may now have male children.
MNC Actuaries project team leader Joseph Chan said the data would help target men who faced a higher risk.
“Our team came up with two different approaches to the modelling and the results were surprisingly consistent. We did not guess at the outset that the final figure would be so high,” he said.
“We derived the estimate based on the evidence that men who have a father or brother who have ever been diagnosed with prostate cancer have twice the average risk of developing the disease.
“Men who have two or more close male relatives who have been diagnosed have a lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer that is five times greater.”
However, the project did not differentiate between the levels of risk.
“We calculated the estimate by approximating the number of male children born to men with prostate cancer, as well as the number of brothers they have, taking into account all men diagnosed with prostate cancer who are still living or have died,” he said.
“For greater accuracy, the estimates also allow for a likely number of undiagnosed cases.”
Organisers of The Long Run are hoping to raise $1.7m this year.
“We hope to bring people together to save lives,” Ms Savage said.