By the Numbers: Diagnosis and Survival
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the US (excluding skin cancer), and the second leading cause of cancer in men worldwide. 1 in 8 US men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives. Prostate cancer incidence increases with age: the older you are, the greater your chance of developing it.
Although only about 1 in 451 men under age 50 will be diagnosed, the rate shoots up to 1 in 55 for ages 50 to 59, 1 in 20 for ages 60 to 69, and 1 in 12 for men 70 and older. Nearly 60% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65.
Prostate cancer is diagnosed with a biopsy. The most common reason for a man to undergo a prostate biopsy is due to an elevated prostate-specific antigen level (PSA), determined by a blood test. In the last decade, changes in PSA screening recommendations have affected the rates of prostate cancer diagnosis.
Learn more about screening for prostate cancer.
While prostate cancer is relatively common, the good news is that about 90% of all prostate cancers are detected when the cancer is confined to the prostate or the region around it, and treatment success rates are high compared with many other types of cancer.
The 5-year survival rate in the United States for men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer is greater than 99%. In other words, the chance of a man dying from his prostate cancer is generally low. However, prostate cancer comes in many forms, and some men can have aggressive prostate cancer even when it appears to be confined to the prostate.
Amidst so much optimism and progress in the last 10 years, it’s important to keep in mind that prostate cancer is still a deadly disease for some men, and it is the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the US, with 94 men dying from it every day.
In general, the earlier the cancer is caught and treated, the more likely the patient will remain disease-free. In fact, many men with “low-risk” tumors (which are the most common type of prostate cancer), as well as some men with intermediate-risk disease, can safely undergo active surveillance. This means patients are closely monitored without immediate treatment (or treatment-related side effects), while still preserving their chance of long-term survival if the cancer becomes aggressive enough to require treatment.