• Prostate cancer;
  • epidemiology;
  • mortality;
  • cancer registration

Objective To describe trends in deaths from prostate cancer between 1970 and 1990, and trends in registrations of prostate cancer between 1971 and 1986.

Methods Data on prostate cancer deaths and registrations were obtained from the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, and age specific rates were calculated.

Results The number of deaths from prostate cancer rose by 107% between 1970 and 1990, from 3906 to 8098. The number of registrations of prostate cancer rose by 75% between 1971 and 1986, from 5819 to 10 180. Age-specific death rates and registration rates also increased but by a smaller amount than the rise in absolute numbers.

Conclusions A component of the increase seen in both the number of prostate cancer deaths and registrations can be explained by a concomitant increase in the elderly male population, the group at highest risk, but the rises seen in rates are more difficult to explain, The rises are likely to have had considerable implications for the workload of urologists and should be taken into account when planning future health services. With further increases expected over the next decade in the elderly male population, deaths and registrations from prostate cancer will continue to rise. Research will be required to determine possible reasons for the increase seen in prostate cancer rates over the last 20 years, to determine the true incidence and prevalence of prostate cancer in the general population and to identify possible aetiological factors.