AstraZeneca and Merck joined hands to launch a prostate cancer awareness campaign called ‘Never Miss.’ The campaign leverages sport in addition to an informational website and social media activity to help men learn about prostate cancer and how to get tested for it. As many people may feel uncomfortable discussing prostate cancer, the website also aims to help individuals overcome this by advising people how to talk to their doctor and loved ones about prostate cancer and how to approach conversations with someone who may be at risk.
The ‘Never Miss’ campaign was reviewed by medical experts and opens up to this sensitive topic by stating: “There are many things in life we would never miss — whether that is a wedding, a school play or even a sports game. We can go a lifetime seeing our favorite teams play every week, and just like you’d never miss a game, or hope to never miss a goal… you should never miss a chance at early diagnosis. Knowing your prostate cancer risk could save your life.”
Prostate cancer can usually be detected early by testing for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in blood or by a digital rectal exam. If the outcomes of either of these tests are abnormal, further tests like a prostate biopsy are frequently done to determine if a man has prostate cancer.
People with an early-stage prostate cancer are usually asymptomatic, but the symptoms of more advanced prostate cancer can include:
- Difficulties urinating (i.e., a weak or slow urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, particularly at night)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Blood in the semen or urine
- Numbness or weakness in the feet or legs
- Loss of bowel or bladder control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord
- Pain in the back (spine), hips, chest (ribs) or other areas due to cancer that has spread to the bones
Globally, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. Many individuals do not come forward to get tested for prostate cancer as they may feel embarrassed about getting a rectal exam or uncomfortable about opening up and discussing their sexual health.
“We know that when prostate cancer is detected early, the outcomes for patients may be greatly improved. Through the ‘Never Miss’ campaign, we hope to raise awareness of risk factors for prostate cancer, break down social barriers and empower men to take control of their health,” said Sophie Opdyke, Merck’s SVP of global oncology marketing.
Even though most patients with prostate cancer are over 50 years old, recent trends show it can affect a person even at 45. More than a million men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020. Early detection of this disease can make it easier to treat. Thus, “active surveillance” and “watchful waiting” is often advised to men during their annual physical check-ups.
“Our top priority in breaking down barriers to prostate cancer awareness and detection is always to listen to the community affected by this disease, act on these insights and ensure the patient voice is heard,” said Sunil Verma, global head of oncology medical at AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca and Merck co-market Lynparza (olaparib), which is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for indications in prostate cancer as well as pancreatic, breast and ovarian cancers.