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Statistics and outlook for prostate cancer

Men and women discussing prostate cancer

This page is about the outlook for men with prostate cancer. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Prostate cancer statistics and outlook

Outlook means your chances of getting better. Doctors call this prognosis. It can be difficult to work out prognosis for prostate cancer. This is because different factors affect how the prostate cancer will grow. So it is very important that you talk to your cancer specialist about your likely prognosis. The main factors affecting the outcome of your cancer are the stage, the Gleason score and the prostate specific antigen (PSA) level.

On this page, we have quite detailed information about the likely outcome of different stages of prostate cancer. The statistics we use are taken from a variety of sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check every section of Cancer Research UK's patient information. They are intended as a general guide only. For a more complete picture in your case, you need to speak to your own specialist.

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating prostate cancer section.

 

 

About the information on this page

This page contains quite detailed information about the survival rates for different stages of prostate cancer. We have included it because many people have asked us for this. But not everyone who is diagnosed with a cancer wants to read this type of information. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment or not, then perhaps you might like to skip this page for now. You can always come back to it.

Please note that no UK national statistics are available for different stages of cancer or treatments that people may have had. The statistics we present here are pulled together from a variety of different sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check each section of Cancer Research UK's patient information. We provide statistics because people ask us for them. But they are only intended as a general guide and cannot tell you what will happen in your individual situation.

 

Cancer statistics in general

We have a section explaining cancer statistics and also explaining incidence, mortality and survival. Unless you are very familiar with medical statistics, it might help to read this before you read the statistics below.

 

Outcome overall, by grade and by stage

Of all those with prostate cancer, about 94 out of every 100 men (94%) live for at least a year after they are diagnosed. About 85 out of every 100 men (85%) live for at least 5 years. And about 84 out of every 100 men (84%) live for at least 10 years.

There has been a large increase in the numbers of men diagnosed in recent years due to the increasing use of the PSA blood test. Individual factors will affect their outcome. The most important of these is grade. If you have a low grade cancer, it is likely to be slow growing, whatever the stage.

Here are some statistics for different stages of prostate cancer.

Localised prostate cancer

Overall, about 90 out of every 100 men with localised prostate cancer will live for more than 5 years after they are diagnosed. Between 65 and 90 out of every 100 men (65 to 90%) will live for at least 10 years. Please note, these are relative statistics. This means that they don't include people with prostate cancer who have died from other causes. Cancer statistics are often worked out this way because it gives a more accurate picture of the survival rate of the cancer.

Many men with prostate cancer are older and may not die from their cancer, but from other illnesses, such as heart disease. Prostate cancer can be slow to develop. So, many men with early stage prostate cancer will eventually die of something else not related to their prostate cancer.

The outcome also depends on the grade of the cancer. A large review paper looked at men having watch and wait for localised prostate cancer. In men with low or intermediate grade cancers, about 98 out of every 100 (98%) lived for more than 5 years. But in men with high grade cancers, just over 2 out of 3 (67%) lived for more than 5 years. If you have a high grade cancer, your specialist is more likely to treat you straight away, rather than using watch and wait or active monitoring.

Locally advanced prostate cancer

Locally advanced cancer means that the cancer has broken though the outer covering (capsule) of the prostate gland. Things get very complicated when trying to find statistics for this group. The statistics generally come from clinical trials. As these relate to various different types and combinations of treatment and to different groups of patients, it isn’t possible to group them together easily. Generally though, with radiotherapy and hormone therapy, between 7 and 8 out of every 10 men (70 to 80%) will live for at least 5 years after diagnosis.

Prostate cancer that has spread

In some men the cancer has spread to another part of their body when they are diagnosed with prostate cancer. This is not common. Cancer that has spread is called metastatic prostate cancer. About 1 in 3 men with advanced prostate cancer (30%) will live for at least 5 years after they are diagnosed. Again, this is a relative statistic. So it is only related to prostate cancer, and not the risk of dying from other causes. Many men with prostate cancer are older and the disease can be very slow to develop, so it may not end up affecting their life span.

 

How outlook is worked out

It can be difficult to work out the outlook for prostate cancer. This is because there are different factors that affect how the prostate cancer will grow. So it is very important that you talk to your cancer specialist if you are trying to find out about your likely prognosis. The main factors affecting the outcome of your cancer are the 

Stage

As with many other types of cancer, the outcome of prostate cancer depends on whether it has spread when it is diagnosed. In other words, the stage of your cancer. Prostate cancer statistics are usually grouped into 

  • Localised disease – the cancer is completely contained within the prostate gland
  • Locally advanced disease – the cancer has grown through the covering of the prostate gland
  • Cancer that has spread to another part of the body, such as the bones

Gleason grade or score

With prostate cancer, your outlook also depends on how the cells look under a microscope. This is called the grade of your cancer. In prostate cancer, this is recorded as your Gleason score. A Gleason score of between 2 and 6 is a low grade prostate cancer. It is likely to grow very slowly. A Gleason score of 7 is an intermediate grade that will grow at a moderate rate. A Gleason score of 8 to 10 is a high grade cancer that is likely to grow more quickly.

If your Gleason score is low and you are older or have early stage disease your doctor is likely to suggest watching and waiting (also called active monitoring). This is because your cancer may not spread or cause any trouble. If you have a high Gleason score, are younger, or have higher stage disease, your doctor is more likely to suggest you have active treatment such as surgery or radiotherapy.

PSA level

The third factor is the level of a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood when you are diagnosed. A low stage cancer with a high PSA level may sometimes grow more quickly than a higher stage cancer with a lower PSA.

 

How reliable these statistics are

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. For example, the same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics are not detailed enough to tell you about the different treatments people may have had. And they don't tell how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. Many individual factors will determine your treatment and prognosis.

Remember that statistics are always slightly out of date. As with all statistics, it takes quite a long time to bring them all together. So they don’t always reflect newer developments in treatment. Specialists now use treatments such as newer cancer drugs for advanced prostate cancer. The statistics we’ve quoted here are unlikely to take these new treatments into account. Our specialists tell us that the outlook is improving all the time.

 

Clinical trials

Research evidence shows that taking part in clinical trials may improve outlook. No one is completely sure why this is. It is probably partly to do with your doctors and nurses monitoring you more closely if you are in a trial. For example, you may have more scans and blood tests. So if your cancer comes back it may be picked up sooner. There is more information in the trials and research section.

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Updated: 30 April 2014