Prostate cancer: breaking taboos to beat the disease

Prostate cancer kills 9,000 people each year in France. Early detection of this taboo disease could reduce these figures, however. © DCStudio_Freepik

Improvement of treatments, evolution in screening, advances in medical research … If the management of Prostate cancer is experiencing some progress, it comes up against societal difficulties. The main ? The taboo surrounding the prostate and the reluctance of some men to get tested. To raise awareness of this cause, the month of November becomes “Movember”.

An important communication according to Dr Armelle Vincenneux, medical oncologist at Léon Bérard Center, in Lyon, guest on the set of Your Health this Thursday, November 18 on BFM Lyon. A weekly health show hosted by Élodie Poyade and Pascal Auclair, editor-in-chief of Groupe Ma Santé, partner of the show.

“Men don’t dare talk about their prostate”

Prostate Cancer: Why Awareness Is Important?

There are awareness efforts, but prostate cancer and testicular cancer are not well publicized. On the women’s side, we talk a lot about breast cancer in the context of Pink October for example, but we do less on the men’s side. Prostate cancer is however very common. Dialogues on this theme of male cancers are rarer. Men do not dare to talk about their prostate when it is a very important subject. Many men still die from prostate or testicular cancer each year. There is still some awareness raising work to be done.

Has the number of people with prostate cancer changed in recent years?

In 2015, approximately 50,000 patients had prostate cancer. Although there has been a slight decrease in the number of cases, the numbers remain broadly stable and are still too large. Also, evolutions and therapeutic advances now allow patients to live longer. There are therefore thousands of patients followed for this type of cancer.

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What is the average age of men with prostate cancer?

Before age 50, prostate cancer is quite rare. The average age of the patients is 68 but the profiles are different. The patients we treat at the Center Léon Bérard are on average between 60 and 74 years old. But patients with more severe cases are unfortunately a little younger.

Prostate Cancer Screening: The First Steps To A Cure

Regarding screening, at what age should we think about it?

Movember your pascal auclair health
Doctor Armelle Vinceneux (CLB) answers questions from Pascal Auclair (Ma Santé).

The frequency of screening depends on the patient profile. You have to think about it from 50 years old. However, it is recommended that people with a family history of cancer get tested earlier. In any case, it is important to discuss it with your general practitioner.

Can a simple blood test detect prostate cancer?

Yes, screening through a blood test can detect cancers that do not have symptoms. The assay of TSA, a marker which makes it possible to detect prostate cancer, can lead, after additional examinations, to the detection of a localized and therefore curable cancer.

If prostate cancer is caught early, is it curable?

Prostate cancer is overall well treated. The majority of patients diagnosed on time do not have a recurrence. However, there are still some patients who relapse, but medical surveillance can detect a possible relapse early enough.

Urinary disorders: signs that should alert

What are the signs that should alert?

There may be an absence of symptoms. But some signs can indeed alert, such as urinary problems: frequent cravings during the night, blood in the urine, sensations of pelvic discomfort … These symptoms are not necessarily indicative of cancer but can be those of a pathology of the prostate. It is therefore essential to consult a general practitioner for a clinical examination such as a digital rectal examination, or even the prescription of a blood test.

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What are the risk factors that promote the development of prostate cancer?

There are genetic factors but also ethnic ones: certain ethnic groups are more at risk than others. Environmental factors are also suspected with the presence of pesticides in particular, such as chlordecone for example.

Treatment: “it is possible to opt for simple close monitoring without intervention”

What are the existing treatments for the management of prostate cancer?

Depending on the patient’s profile, different treatments will be offered. Several stakeholders treat prostate cancer: neurological surgeons, radiotherapy specialists and medical oncologists. In the context of localized cancer, for example, it will be possible to opt for surgery or radiotherapy. Depending on the patient’s profile, it will also be possible to opt for simple close monitoring without intervention because the treatments can cause side effects such as erectile dysfunction, libido or urinary disorders. It is therefore also important not to treat patients more than necessary.

Testicular cancer is much less publicized than prostate cancer, how many cases are there per year?

Cases of testicular cancer are much rarer. There are around 2000 per year. In more than 95% of cases, this cancer is curable. But the earlier it is detected, the better it is taken care of. It is therefore essential for men between the ages of 20 and 40 to carry out regular self-examination of their testicles in search of a possible lump. This test is important, as it is recommended for women for breast cancer.


Initiated in 2003, Operation Movember invites men to grow a mustache in November with the aim of raising awareness of male cancers, especially those of the prostate and testicles.

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