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Good news or bad: You decide

According to just-released figures from UK health authorities, prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in England, having for the first time overtaken breast cancer in terms of prevalence in England, followed then by lung cancer at number 3, and bowel cancer at number 4.

So is that good news? Or bad?

I suppose it would be good news if these health authorities had also deduced that UK men are dying much less often of prostate cancer.

But they didn’t say that.

They just said that prostate cancer is being diagnosed more often, which, when you think about it, is totally predictable since men are living longer (PC rises substantially with age) and tests to pick up even small, un-troubling cancers have improved remarkably, never mind the fact that so many experts and celebrities are doing PSAs to get more men to be tested for prostate cancer.

So my take is that this doesn’t mean a thing: Yes, we can diagnose cancer much more easily these days, especially PC.

But that doesn’t mean that we’re doing the people with those cancers much good if they end up having surgery (or other invasive) treatments for a malignancy that wouldn’t have done them any harm if left undiscovered.