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Prostate Cancer Research in Canada: A Look at Progress Over the Years

Woman in lab coat
Woman in lab coat

Prostate cancer has witnessed a decline in death rates since its peak in the mid-’90s. Research in novel approaches to cancer prevention, treatment, and support continues to gain traction in Canada.

Since its peak in 1995, the prostate cancer death rate in Canada has declined by a staggering 50 percent. What has led to this remarkable progress? Put simply: research. 

In 1995, prostate cancer was — as it is now — the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian males. Yet there weren’t a lot of funds being allocated to prostate cancer research in this country.  

Today, that’s hard to believe. Thanks to strategic investments, Canada now has an incredibly robust community of prostate cancer researchers. Over the past 27 years, this community has made advancements in hormone therapy, precision surgery, targeted radiation therapy, early detection, diagnosis, and more. These game-changing advancements are saving lives and improving the quality of life for people diagnosed with prostate cancer at home and around the world. 

Despite the significant strides we’ve made, prostate cancer continues to take an enormous toll on those affected by it. And due to Canada’s aging and growing population, the number of people expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer each year continues to grow.   

The good news is that we are at an exciting tipping point when it comes to prostate cancer research. From coast to coast, researchers in Canada are building on previous discoveries and leveraging powerful new technologies such as imaging tools and liquid biopsies to accelerate progress.  

For example, a Canadian Cancer Society-funded (CCS) research team led by Dr. Alexander Wyatt, Assistant Professor in Urologic Sciences at the University of British Columbia, is currently designing a blood test to predict the aggressiveness of a person’s prostate cancer to guide treatment. If successful, this test could replace invasive biopsies and enable oncologists to make decisions about which therapies to use to best improve outcomes for their patients. 

Work like this gives us hope that the number of people in Canada who survive a prostate cancer diagnosis will continue to grow. But we must not stop here. To transform the future of prostate cancer, we must push further and reach higher. 

That’s why, with the support of our donors, CCS is committed to investing in research in novel approaches to cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and support. And I for one, cannot wait to see what Canada’s community of tremendously talented prostate cancer researchers will discover next.

Headshot of Dr Stuart Edmonds

Dr. Stuart Edmonds

Executive Vice President, Mission – Research and Advocacy, Canadian Cancer Society

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