Prostate Cancer Outcomes

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: November 2019 | Last updated: February 2020

Researchers estimate there will be 174,680 new cases of prostate cancer in 2019, and 31,630 deaths. Prostate cancer makes up 5.2 percent of all cancer-related deaths in the United States.1,2 This means that the outcome after a prostate cancer diagnosis is generally very good. About 3 million men who have been diagnosed with or are currently battling prostate cancer are still alive today.

What determines prognosis (outcome)?

Everyone’s experience with prostate cancer can vary based on many factors, including:

  • Age of diagnosis
  • Other personal traits (like race or ethnicity)
  • Features of the cancer such as tumor size, Gleason score, stage, location, or lymph node and other organ involvement
  • Other health conditions
  • Your own opinions on treating the cancer and its side effects
  • Your doctor’s opinions on treating the cancer quickly, or not
  • Your cancer’s response to treatment

This is not a complete list of things that may contribute to a specific outcome. Your doctor will look closer at your specific case to decide on a more accurate idea on the course of your disease.3

Survival rates for prostate cancer

Cancer is often considered cured or in remission when the person has had no signs or symptoms of disease for 5 years. Most cases of prostate cancer are found at early stages, making treatment more effective. Factors like these are what lead to incredibly high survival rates of prostate cancer.

  • The 5-year relative survival rate for prostate cancer was almost 99 percent between 2009 and 2015. At the 10- and 15-year marks, this number is still above 90 percent.4
  • Local prostate cancer: For prostate cancer has not spread beyond the prostate, and includes roughly 80 percent of all new prostate cancer cases. The 5-year survival rate for these men is nearly 100 percent.
  • Regional prostate cancer: Regional prostate cancer has spread to nearby areas. The 5-year relative survival rate for these men is also nearly 100 percent.
  • Distant prostate cancer: Distant prostate cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes, organs, or bones. The 5-year relative survival rate for these men is roughly 30 percent. This group includes only 5 percent of all prostate cancers.4-5

Survival rates do not give an individual’s exact chance of living or a positive response to treatment. These numbers compare people with the same type and stage of cancer to get a better idea of the course a cancer generally takes.5-6

When looking at any survival rate, it is important to understand the demographics of the people included in the statistic. Demographics include age, gender, other medical conditions, treatment history, and race or ethnicity. All of these factors can affect survival rates.5-6

Prostate cancer death rates

Even though survival rates are high for most men with prostate cancer, death is still possible. Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., behind lung and colorectal cancers. Although this seems like an intimidating fact, it is important to note that the rate of death from prostate cancer has declined steadily since the 1990s.2

Men 75 and older, and African American men in general have the highest rates of death due to prostate cancer. African American men also have the highest rates of new cases each year.2

Surviving prostate cancer

For those who are cured, surviving, or in remission, long-term care is important. Follow-up appointments will include tests and recommendations for diet and exercise. Your doctor will also talk to you about signs to watch for a recurrence or a second cancer in another location.7

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