What is the Prostate Cancer Survival Rate?
This article was updated on: 09/15/2018
If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s natural to have questions about the disease, treatments, and especially the prostate cancer survival rate. Although it’s always best to talk to your health care provider about your specific concerns, the below information may help you navigate a prostate cancer diagnosis.
What is prostate cancer?
The American Cancer Society (ACS) describes cancer as a condition in which certain cells in the body begin to grow uncontrollably. If you have prostate cancer, this means that cells in the prostate gland are growing abnormally.
Although there are five types of prostate cancer, the ACS states that the vast majority of prostate tumors are adenocarcinomas, which is cancer in the cells within the prostate gland itself that make prostate fluid. Most prostate cancers are very slow growing; in fact, in many cases, you may have prostate cancer for a long time without either you or your doctor being aware of it.
What is the prostate cancer survival rate?
It’s important to understand what the term “survival rate” means before going into detail about the prostate cancer survival rate.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an overall cancer survival rate is a statistic that represents the number of people who are still alive at a certain point in time following their original cancer diagnosis. For example, if there is a 90% five-year survival rate for a particular cancer, that means that 90 out of 100 people who were diagnosed with that cancer are still alive five years later.
Sometimes, health professionals will use other types of survival rates:
- A disease-free survival rate means that a person has achieved remission and has no sign of cancer after a certain period of time, usually five years.
- The progression-free survival rate refers to individuals who still have cancer at that point in time, again, usually five years, but the disease has not gotten any worse during that time.
Your doctor uses the prostate cancer survival rate to help formulate your treatment plan and determine your prognosis, or the expected outcome with various forms of treatment.
The good news is the prostate cancer survival rate is actually very good. Four out of five incidences of prostate cancer are found at the local stage, meaning there is no sign that the cancer has spread outside the prostate. According to the ACS, here are the most recent statistics for people with all stages of prostate cancer at time of diagnosis:
- At five years, the relative prostate cancer survival rate is 99%.
- At 10 years, the relative prostate cancer survival rate is 98%.
- At 15 years, the relative prostate cancer survival rate is 96%.
What else should I know about the prostate cancer survival rate?
The ACS suggests that the prostate cancer survival rate has a number of limitations you should keep in mind when you discuss your prognosis with your doctor. For example:
- The survival rate applies only to prostate cancer when it is first diagnosed. The statistics may change for cancers that recur or spread to other parts of the body.
- Survival rates apply to the “average” person diagnosed with the disease. Your prostate cancer survival rate depends on a number of factors, such as the stage of the cancer, the age you are when you get diagnosed, your overall health condition, and whether your cancer responds appropriately to treatment.
- The survival rate for prostate cancer also varies depending on whether or not the cancer has spread beyond the local or regional stage to other parts of the body such as the bones or other organs. Prostate cancer that has spread is called “distant stage” cancer and may only have 29% 5-year survival rate.
- The prostate cancer survival rate looks back in time to individuals who were first diagnosed many years ago. Prostate cancer treatments continually improve, so a person diagnosed with prostate cancer today may have better odds than one diagnosed 10 or 15 years ago.
If you have any concerns about your prostate cancer survival rate, it’s a good idea to talk them over with your health care provider. Remember, survival rates are simply statistics; they cannot predict what will happen to you in your particular situation and treatment plan.
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This article provides general information, and is not a substitute for medical advice. Only a licensed medical professional can diagnose and treat medical conditions such as prostate cancer.