Besides skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the US. And though prostate cancer can be a serious illness, roughly 84% of prostate cancer diagnoses are made when the cancer is still local to the prostate, making it easier to treat. Despite that, a lot of people still wonder what is the survival rate for prostate cancer?
The rates of people dying from prostate cancer have been declining in recent years, likely as a result of more screening and advancing treatment options. In general, the earlier prostate cancer cells are caught and treated, the more likely the patient is to remain disease free.
Around 60% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older. Prostate cancer is rarely diagnosed in men under 40, and on average the age of diagnosis is 66 years old.
It’s important to note that all these survival rates are an estimate, and though they’re based on large numbers of people who had a specific type of cancer, they can’t predict how a specific person will respond to cancer or cancer treatment.
So what are the survival rates for prostate cancer? Here, we’ll explain what the prostate survival rate is for different types of prostate cancer, and what treatment options there are available.
What is the survivability rate for prostate cancer?
To understand the survival rates for prostate cancer, it’s important to understand how prostate cancer is categorized. The American Cancer Society relies on information from the SEER (surveillance, epidemiology, and end results) database, which groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages.
When it comes to prostate cancer, these stages are categorized as follows:
- Localized: No sign that the cancer has spread outside the prostate
- Regional: Cancer has spread outside the prostate to nearby structures or nearby lymph nodes
- Distant: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body, like the lungs, liver, or bones.
The 5-year relative prostate cancer survival rates are greater than 99% for men who have been diagnosed with an early stage or localized prostate cancer. (It’s important to note that some men can have aggressive forms of cancer even when they appear to be confined to the prostate, which would have a different impact on their survival rate.)
A relative survival rate compares the number of people with the same type and stage of cancer to the rest of the population. So in the number above, the five-year relative rate means that men diagnosed with prostate cancer are about 99% as likely to live five years after their diagnosis as men without cancer.
Survival Rates for Prostate Cancer Over Time
The 10-year relative survival rate is 98%, meaning that 10 years after diagnosis, the average prostate cancer patient is roughly two percent less likely to survive than someone without prostate cancer.
The 15-year prostate cancer survival rate is 95%, meaning the average patient is five percent less likely to survive than someone without prostate cancer. In other words, the survivability rate of prostate cancer is relatively high, and the chances of dying from prostate cancer are rather low.
As mentioned above, the survivability rate of prostate cancer that’s localized is almost 100% after five years. The survival rate for prostate cancer that’s regional is similarly high at around 99%, but once prostate cancer spreads into other parts of the body and is considered distant, the survival rate is around 28%, so the survival rate for stage 4 prostate cancer is not nearly as high as localized and regional cancers.
These survival rates for prostate cancer may change in the future, as this data is collected from men who were diagnosed five or more years ago, and treatment options are always advancing and changing.
What Can Improve Survival Rates for Prostate Cancer?
Although the survival rate for prostate cancer is already relatively high, it is still a leading cause of death for men in the US—so there’s definitely still room for treatments to improve.
Dr. Ara Karamanian, the founder of Prostate Laser Center, says that the key to improving the survival rate of prostate cancer includes:
- early screening and treatment
- more accurate diagnosis and testing
- genetic testing of prostate biopsies
Currently, he says, “We have a problem where we get misleading diagnoses.”
Image-guided biopsy is another way to help solve this diagnostic problem. Image-guided biopsy, or MRI-guided biopsy, can help radiologists target cancer in the prostate more specifically, because it allows them to see the cancer live and place a needle directly into it. Oftentimes, we will see a patient who thinks they have a G3+3 from a non-targeted biopsy, but the MRI looks suspicious, and we find that the patient actually has a more aggressive, Gleason 7 cancer when we perform the more accurate MRI-guided biopsy.
Prostate cancer treatment options
Treatment options for prostate cancer can vary depending on the stage and grade of your cancer, your age, and how your medical team thinks your cancer will respond to treatment. You’ll also have to think about how you feel about the potential side effects of cancer treatment, and if you and your doctors think it’s the right choice to treat right away.
Treatment options for prostate cancer can include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and others. Your medical team, which might include a urologist, a radiation oncologist, interventional radiologist, and/or a medical oncologist, will help you determine which treatment option is right for you.
Though you may be working with multiple different professionals, you’ll want to make sure you have a radiologist specializing in prostates on your medical team. A urologist, for example, can take an ultrasound of your prostate and surrounding areas, but an ultrasound is rarely able to show cancer. If you’re also being treated by a radiologist specializing in the prostate, they can take a (hopefully high quality) MRI, and be able to give an expert reading and identify if and where a clinically significant prostate cancer shows with about 90% sensitivity (versus about 60-70% sensitivity with the older, non-targeted approach).
If you’re seeking treatment options for prostate cancer or BPH, Prostate Laser Center can help you explore your options. Request a consultation today to get started.
NOTE: The information provided on this website is general medical information and does not establish a physician-patient relationship. Please discuss your particular situation with a qualified medical professional.