Prostate Cancer Facts and Statistics

by Jane Ashley

Almost 175,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate annually, making
prostate cancer the most common cancer in men (except for skin cancer). About 60 percent of
men diagnosed with prostate cancer are over the age of 60. Average age for diagnosis is 66.

One Out Of Every Nine Men Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is about 60 percent higher in African-American men than white men.
About 90 percent of prostate cancer is diagnosed when it is localized or has spread to nearby
organs (regional disease). Five-year survival rates for these cancer is almost 100 percent.

When prostate cancer spreads to distant parts of the body, the five-year survival rates drops
dramatically. Prostate cancer accounts for over 31,500 deaths annually in the U.S. PSA
screenings to detect prostate cancer early have helped reduce death rates by almost half from
1993 to 2016.

What is prostate cancer?

This walnut-sized gland is located behind the base of a man’s penis. It is in front of the rectum
and below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine and sperm
through the penis. The prostate manufactures seminal fluid, the fluid that protects and
transports sperm.

Prostate Cancer Illustration

Prostate cancer occurs when cells within the prostate gland grow out of control and form a
tumor. Prostate cancer is different from most cancers that produce tumors. Prostate cancer
tumors usually grow very slowly and may cause few, if any, symptoms. Even men with
advanced prostate cancer may live many years with a good quality of life.

What are the risk factors?

Most risk factors for prostate cancer are factors that can’t be changed. Our best defense
against prostate cancer is appropriate screenings, including regular PSA testing.

 Age. More than 80 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are over 65.

 Agent Orange exposure. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are at increased
risk for prostate cancer. The Department of Veteran Affairs provides more information
on the link between Agent Orange and prostate cancer.

 Family history. Prostate cancer may run in families — it’s called familial prostate cancer
and accounts for about 20 percent of prostate cancer diagnoses. Hereditary prostate
cancer (when the cancer is “directly” inherited from a relative) is rare, accounting for
about 5 percent of prostate cancer cases. If you have three first degree relatives (father,
son or brother) who have had prostate cancer, be sure to tell your doctor. Also, if there
has been prostate cancer in 3 generations on the same side of the family or if two or
more close relatives on the same side of the family, be sure to tell your doctor. They will
advise you on more aggressive screenings to help ensure that any problem is detected

 Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome. If your family history includes
women who developed breast or ovarian cancer, you might be at increased risk of
prostate cancer.

 Race/ethnicity. Black men experience a higher rate of prostate cancer — it’s diagnosed
earlier and may be more aggressive. Hispanic men have a lower rate of prostate cancer
than non-Hispanic white men. Prostate cancer is on the rise in Asian men living in
urbanized areas like Hong Kong and Singapore as well as in American and European
urban areas.

African American Prostate Cancer

Screening tests include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test.
Controversy exists on the frequency of these tests and the age, at which these tests should be
discontinued. Every man should have a frank discussion with their physician over their risk
factors and decide on the frequency of prostate cancer screenings.

Staging and Grades

Although the standard stages of cancer (Stages I through IV still exist), the Gleason score
provides clinicians additional information to help guide their treatment. The Gleason score
provides information on how aggressive a particular patient’s prostate cancer is.

The Gleason score is based on how much the cancer cells look like normal cells. The more they
look like normal cells, the lower the Gleason score. Well-differentiated cancer cells look more
like normal cells and receive the lowest score of 6. A Gleason score of 7 is a medium grade.
Gleason scores of 8, 9 and 10 are poorly-differentiated and more likely to require more
aggressive treatment.

The NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network) developed five risk categories, again to
help direct your medical team in how aggressive treatment should be.

 Very low risk – the tumor is so small that it can’t be felt with a DRE or seen on imaging
tests, and the Gleason score is 6. The PSA is less than 10.

 Low risk – the tumor is still small but may be felt during a DRE. PSA is less than 10.
Gleason score is still a 6.

 Intermediate risk – the tumor is large enough to be felt with a DRE. PSA is between 10
and 20. The Gleason score is 7.

 High risk – the tumor has grown through the prostate or into the seminal vesicles. PSA is
higher than 20. The Gleason score is between 8 and 10.

Very high risk – the tumor has grown into the seminal vesicles or other adjoining
structures, including the rectum, bladder or pelvic wall. Gleason scores are between 8
and 10.

The lower your NCCN score, the less likely the prostate cancer will grow and spread.
Prostate cancer in the news.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation provides men and their caregivers the latest information about
diagnosis and detection of prostate cancer, treatments and treatment side effects (including
sexual side effects) and news about the causes and treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

Download their new 2019 Prostate Cancer Patient Guide.

African-American men are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as non-Hispanic white
men. Download their new guide, Additional Facts for African American Men and Their Families.
Learn more about new treatments — from fewer radiation treatments to active surveillance to
new targeted treatments for advanced prostate cancer.

When detected early, prostate cancer can be cured.

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