Prostate Cancer FAQs
How common is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting 1 in 6 men.
In 2014, approximately 233,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 29,000 men will die from the disease. One new case occurs every 2.3 minutes and a man dies from prostate cancer every 18 minutes.
It is estimated that there are nearly 3 million American men currently living with prostate cancer.
How does prostate cancer compare with other cancers?
A non-smoking man is more likely to develop prostate cancer than he is to develop colon, bladder, melanoma, lymphoma and kidney cancers combined. In fact, a man is 35% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Are some men more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer?
Older age, African American race, and a family history of the disease can all increase the likelihood of a man being diagnosed with the disease.
As men increase in age, their risk of developing prostate cancer increases exponentially. Although only 1 in 10,000 under age 40 will be diagnosed, the rate shoots up to 1 in 38 for ages 40 to 59, and 1 in 14 for ages 60 to 69. About 60% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65 and 97% occur in men 50 years of age and older.
African American men are 56% more likely to develop prostate cancer compared with Caucasian men and nearly 2.5 times as likely to die from the disease. You can read more about prostate cancer in African American men here.
Men with a single first-degree relative—father, brother or son—with a history of prostate cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease, while those with two or more relatives are nearly four times as likely to be diagnosed. The risk is highest in men whose family members were diagnosed before age 65.
How curable is prostate cancer?
As with all cancers, "cure" rates for prostate cancer describe the percentage of patients likely remaining disease-free for a specific time. In general, the earlier the cancer is caught, the more likely it is for the patient to remain disease-free.
Because approximately 90% of all prostate cancers are detected in the local and regional stages, the cure rate for prostate cancer is very high—nearly 100% of men diagnosed at this stage will be disease-free after five years. By contrast, in the 1970s, only 67% of men diagnosed with local or regional prostate cancer were disease-free after five years.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
If the cancer is caught at its earliest stages, most men will not experience any symptoms. Some men, however, will experience symptoms such as frequent, hesitant, or burning urination, difficulty in having an erection, or pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.
Because these symptoms can also indicate the presence of other diseases or disorders, men who experience any of these symptoms will undergo a thorough work-up to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms. You can read more about prostate cancer symptoms here.
If there are no symptoms, how is prostate cancer detected?
Screening for prostate cancer can be performed in a physician’s office using two tests: the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE).
How is prostate cancer treated?
There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer, including surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy, any or all of which might be used at different times depending on the stage of disease and the need for treatment.
Consultation with all three types of prostate cancer specialists—a urologist, a radiation oncologist and a medical oncologist—will offer the most comprehensive assessment of the available treatments and expected outcomes. More information regarding treatments for prostate cancer can be found on our website here.
Where can I find more information about prostate cancer and the different treatment options available?
Additional information about prostate cancer can be found through our Understanding Prostate Cancer section, our guides and the Treatment Options section of our website. You can order a paper copy or download our guides in pdf format here.
What is the Prostate Cancer Foundation doing to find better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer?
The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is the world's largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research to discover better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer. PCF pursues its mission by reaching out to individuals, corporations and others to harness society’s resources—financial and human—to fight this deadly disease. Founded in 1993, PCF has generated more than $585 million and provided funding for more than 2,000 research projects at nearly 200 institutions worldwide. The PCF has been a pioneer in the grant making process, simplifying paperwork for grantees, leaving more time for scientific investigators to conduct needed research. The PCF also advocates for greater awareness of prostate cancer and more government resources, resulting in a twenty-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation has accomplished a great deal, but there is still much more to do. Please join us in this race to find a cure for prostate cancer and donate today.