MORE and more young men in Limerick are being diagnosed with significant prostate cancer, a study has revealed.
Research from University Hospital Limerick showed the average age of men with high-grade prostate cancer dropped from 71 to 63 over the course of a decade.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in Irish men, accounting for more than 31 per cent of cases, according to the Irish Cancer Society.
The research, taken from 2391 men who underwent Transrectal Ultrasound Guided prostate biopsy (TRUSPB) at the hospital over a 10-year period, showed the rate of significant cancer detection increased by 18% in younger men.
Researchers from the University of Limerick said: “Significant prostate cancer detection increased across all age groups but recently, a younger patient profile was diagnosed with high-grade disease.”
The average age of men undergoing TRUS biopsies at the hospital also went down, but researchers said this was partly due to the increased used of PSA tests.
There is currently no national screening programme for prostate cancer in Ireland but a PSA test can be used to measure the level of prostate specific antigen in the blood, which can be an indicator of the disease.
PSA tests are not routinely offered but can be obtained by a GP or online.
Scientists said the study “paves the way” for future research on early-onset prostate cancer.
They said younger men are more likely to concentrate on ‘radical’ treatment options to combat the disease.
Speaking about the study, clinical oncologist Dr Jiri Kubes said the trends matched those seen at the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic.
Dr Kubes explained a growing number of men in their 50s and 60s from Ireland were seeking revolutionary proton beam therapy treatment abroad as they wished to maintain sexual functions and urinary continence.
Proton therapy is a type of radiotherapy, and uses an accelerated beam of positively-charged particles to attack cancerous cells.
The technology is not currently available in Ireland.
Dr Kubes added: “Since opening in 2012 we have welcomed a number of men from across Europe, including Ireland, who are unable to access proton therapy where they live.
“As prostate cancer is steadily effecting younger and younger men, these patients are even more determined seek a treatment option which maintains their quality of life, including sexual functions and urinary continence.
“Proton therapy has been shown to lower the risk of side effects associated with surgery and traditional radiotherapy, and it’s for this reason it’s becoming increasingly popular in the treatment of prostate cancer.”
The prostate is a small gland just below the bladder, meaning it’s a particularly delicate area to treat.
Surgery and conventional radiotherapy can often leave men with bowel and urinary problems, as well as sexual dysfunction.
Proton therapy delivers higher dose to a targeted area, meaning less damage to surrounding tissue.
Dr Kubes continued: “In the early stage of prostate cancer, the Proton Therapy Centre has a 97 per cent curability rate and it can be treated in just five sessions.
Symptoms of prostate cancer include burning or pain during urination, frequent urges to urinate at night, loss of bladder control and blood in the urine.
"As prostate cancer is steadily effecting younger and younger men, these patients are even more determined seek a treatment option which maintains their quality of life, including sexual functions and "
Dr Jiri Kubes