A recent Leger Marketing poll, funded by Astellas Pharma Canada Inc., indicates 34 per cent of Canadians are confused about whether prostate cancer can affect both men and women.
Twenty per cent said they weren't sure and only 56 per cent had the correct response, being certain that only men can be diagnosed with the disease.
During Prostate Cancer Awareness Week, the survey findings are being interpreted by cancer support groups as demonstrating a continued need for basic prostate cancer education.
"It is clear that people are still confused about the disease," said Aaron Bacher, immediate past chairman of Prostate Cancer Canada Network in Toronto. "As the most common cancer affecting Canadian men, we need to be clear on what the disease is, the importance of being screened, early detection, and what the treatment options are once a diagnosis is made," Bacher said.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect Canadian men. It's estimated one in seven men will develop the disease in their lifetime and an estimated 26,500 cases will be diagnosed in the country in 2012.
That figure is comparable and even slightly higher than the incidence of breast cancer in women. It’s estimated 22,700 cases of breast cancer in women will be diagnosed in Canada in 2012.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 490 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and 70 men will die from prostate cancer.
Those provincial figures are also comparable to Newfoundland and Labrador breast cancer statistics. It’s anticipated 330 breast cancer cases will be diagnosed among women in this province this year, with an estimated 90 deaths in the province from breast cancer.
While it remains unclear what causes prostate cancer, the prostate cancer network says some risk factors may increase a man's risk of developing the disease.
The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age and is most common in men over 65 years of age.
Those with a family history of prostate cancer may also be at higher risk of developing the disease.
Diet is also considered a possible factor. It's believed that a low-fibre, high-fat diet puts men at higher risk for prostate cancer.
PSA blood tests and digital rectal examinations can detect early prostate cancer.
If detected and treated in its early stages, a man's chances of survival can be greatly increased.
The Prostate Cancer Canada Network is a support group run by prostate cancer survivors who help men diagnosed with this disease.
The survey was completed online by Leger marketing from July 30 to Aug. 1 with 1,500 Canadians participating.
The company says a probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.