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Why So Many Young Men Are Getting Prostate Cancer

July 16, 2014

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Prostate cancer is striking young men at an alarming rate, according to a surprising new study conducted by the University of Michigan.

The research, which was published in the journal Nature Reviews Urology, found that over the past 20 years, the number of prostate cancer diagnoses in younger men has increased six-fold and 10 percent of new cases are diagnosed in those under the age of 55. Even scarier: In this early-onset type of prostate cancer, tumors grow more quickly and spread faster than they do in older men.

Yahoo Health could not reach Kathleen A. Cooney, M.D., professor of internal medicine and urology for comment, however she said in a press release, “Early onset prostate cancer tends to be aggressive, striking down men in the prime of their life. These fast-growing tumors in young men might be entirely missed by screening because the timeframe is short before they start to show clinical symptoms.”

The study suggests there is an important biological difference between early-onset and late-onset prostate cancers. Researchers even believe the more aggressive early-onset cancer could be a new clinical subtype that should be addressed differently than its more common counterpart.

And while it’s unclear how men can take measures to protect themselves against early onset prostate cancer, Cooney said, “This subtype is more aggressive and require more specialty expertise, including genetic sequencing.” She found that men with early onset cases had more genetic variants than men diagnosed with prostate cancer at a later age.