Prostate cancer is one of the more common cancers, but if detected early enough, men who suffer from it can have a very good chance of survival. Accessing a radiotherapy centre can often be a crucial factor in enabling them to do so.
However, the rates vary widely between countries, with Austria far from being among the worst affected. There are various reasons for this, not least ethnicity, as the majority of Austrians are white. Research in various countries has shown that, for example, black men are far more likely to suffer the disease.
World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRFI) data published in 2020 showed that the highest rates were in the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Migration from those Caribbean countries to France may partly account for the fact that it was ninth on the list.
Caribbean countries featured heavily among the highest rates, reflecting the ethnic divide, with the top ten also including Barbados, St Lucia and the Bahamas. These countries all had rates of more than 98 per 100,000 men, compared with the global average of 30.7.
However, that was not the full picture; the third-highest rate was in Ireland, while Estonia and Sweden were also in the top ten, showing that European countries with mostly white populations were second-worst affected. High incidence rates in European countries may arise from secondary influences like obesity and high dairy consumption rates.
Another notable fact is that prostate cancer rates vary widely between European countries; EU and EFTA stats in 2018 had put Sweden slightly ahead of Ireland, with these being among five countries with over 200 cases per 100,000 that year.
Yet, at the opposite end of the scale, the rate was only 63.6 in Romania and 83.7 in Poland. The overall average was 151.2, with Austria well below this at 130.4.
However, the difference between the cancer incidence rate and mortality was the most notable finding of the WCRFI figures. No European country was in the top ten for death rates from the disease. Instead, Zimbabwe had the highest death rate, joined in the top ten by Zambia and the Ivory Coast. The other seven in this list were Caribbean nations.
In these countries, the mortality rates ranged from 29.5 per 100,000 in the Ivory Coast to 41.7 in Zimbabwe, compared with a global figure of 7.7.
What this indicates is that the most deadly combination is that of a population more demographically prone to the disease and poorly resourced in terms of its cancer treatment facilities. This would certainly apply to a country like Zimbabwe, where controversial agricultural reforms in the 2000s brought the economy to its knees.
The WCRFI noted how the cancer survival rates for various forms of the disease can vary between countries, with higher-income nations benefitting from better screening and treatment services.
All this suggests that those with the means to travel from countries lacking in the necessary treatment facilities such as radiotherapy providers may find centres like ours the best place to get vital, potentially life-saving treatment.