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Last updated January 31, 2020. 3 minute read

Prostate cancer statistics: prevalence, survival rates

Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer in men aside from skin cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in men. However, most men with prostate cancer will not die from the disease.

Dr Tzvi Doron Do Written by Dr. Tzvi Doron, DO
Reviewed by Dr. Mike Bohl, MD, MPH

1 in 9 men (11.2%) in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in his lifetime. However, prostate cancer becomes much more common with advancing age. For example, before age 50, only 1 in 437 (0.2%) men will develop invasive prostate cancer (ACS, 2019), but that number increases until it reaches 1 in 13 men over the age of 70 (7.9%). The average age at the time of diagnosis of prostate cancer is 66.

How many new cases of prostate cancer will occur this year?

In the United States, it’s estimated that there will be 174,650 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in 2019 and 31,620 men will die from the disease. The prostate cancer incidence is estimated at 109.5 new cases per 100,000 men per year from 2012–2016 (National, n.d.), and it’s estimated that 19.4 out of every 100,000 men died of prostate cancer in 2016 (ACS, 2019). You can see that there’s a big discrepancy in prostate cancer diagnoses and deaths due to prostate cancer. This is because most cancers are diagnosed at an early stage when they are highly treatable.

Vitals

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer in men aside from skin cancer.
  • Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in men.
  • The 5-year survival rate for all prostate cancers combined is 98%.
  • Most men with prostate cancer will not die from the disease.

What is the survival rate for prostate cancer?

One easy way to categorize (ACS, n.d.) prostate cancer is by how far the cancer has spread. Localized prostate cancer is cancer that has not spread outside the prostate gland. Regional prostate cancer is cancer that has spread to nearby structures or lymph nodes. Distant prostate cancer has spread to organs far away from the prostate, such as the bones, liver, or lungs. Cancer statistics for survival are generally reported as 5-year relative survival rates, which compares people with prostate cancer with those without prostate cancer. The 5-year relative survival rate for localized and regional prostate cancer are both over 99%. Cancers that have metastasized to distant sites in the body have a 5-year relative survival rate of ~30%. The overall 5-year survival rate for all prostate cancers combined is 98%. This is because most prostate cancers fall into the first two categories. There are current ~3 million men in the US  who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives. According to the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer deaths have been decreasing since the early 1990s, which may be due to advances in treatment.

What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?

The most important factors that increase the risk of prostate cancer are African American race, a family history of prostate cancer, and increasing age. Black men have a 60% higher risk of prostate cancer than white men and are approximately twice as likely to die of prostate cancer. People with a family history of prostate cancer are at increased risk, and having more than one family member with prostate cancer increases the risk further. Older men have a higher risk of prostate cancer than younger men, with more than 50% of all diagnoses occurring after the age of 65 and 97% occurring after the age of 50. There are also certain genetic syndromes that increase the risk of prostate cancer such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and, as new evidence is suggesting, Lynch Syndrome (a hereditary disease that increases the risks of several cancers).

What are the treatments for prostate cancer?

Treatments for prostate cancer depend on the stage of the disease, the patient’s health, and the patient’s preferences, values and treatment goals. Treatments may include surgery (radical prostatectomy), various types of radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, active surveillance, or watchful waiting. It may also include a combination of these treatment options. Remember, most men with a diagnosis of prostate cancer will not die from the disease and newer treatment options are more tolerable with fewer side effects.