There is a growing trend of younger men being diagnosed with prostate cancer in Hong Kong, with case numbers of patients below 64 years old tripling in the past decade, according to figures from the Hospital Authority. At least 1,600 Hongkongers are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, the third-most-common cancer in men, according to 2012 data from the Hospital Authority's Cancer Registry. The disease, commonly diagnosed at ages 70 and above, is being found in an increasing number of patients under 64. The number of cases tripled to 323 in 2012 from 114 in 2003, with the youngest person diagnosed being 47 years of age. READ MORE: New treatment gives Hong Kong prostate cancer patients 22 months more to live Although researchers have yet to find an exact cause for prostate cancer, doctors say an increased awareness of the disease has led to more voluntary screening at a younger age. "A Westernised lifestyle, such as having a high-fat, low-fibre diet along with a lack of regular exercise, also contributes to an increasing proportion of younger patients getting this disease," said Dr Angus Leung Kwong-chuen, an oncology consultant at Hong Kong Baptist Hospital. Hospital Authority data shows that around 360 men die from the cancer each year, the No5 cause of cancer deaths among men in Hong Kong. Leung said the rate of people dying from the cancer compared with the increase in cases is slower because of better treatment and increased early diagnosis. Food and Health Bureau Secretary Dr Ko Wing-man, who attended an event aimed at promoting prostate-cancer awareness held by the Hong Kong Society of Uro-Oncology yesterday, highlighted the importance of early screening and open dialogue among family members. "As a man, the thought of getting prostate cancer often casts a shadow over our heads," Ko said. "There are times when patients find it hard to talk about their disease, but we need to break away from the taboo and open up to family members so they can get treatment as early as possible." At least three-quarters of the prostate-cancer patients in Hong Kong are diagnosed at the early stage, meaning they have the option of surgery to remove the prostate gland or receiving curative radiation as treatment. Most patients now opt to undergo minimally invasive surgery with the use of robotic arms. Doctors say success rates are high, with fewer people having long-term risks than with traditional surgery methods. "When I was diagnosed, I was hesitant for a while about whether to have the surgery or not, since I'm pretty old. "But my wife encouraged me to do it while I could, since it would be worse after it spread," said Wu Kwing-piu, 75, a prostate-cancer survivor. Fong Lee-Kong, 76, another cancer survivor, said: "It's always better to do it earlier, otherwise it'll just be a ticking time bomb inside you."