man discussing prostate cancer survival rates with doctor

Prostate Cancer Survival Rates

man discussing prostate cancer survival rates with doctor

Outside of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the US. The likelihood of developing prostate cancer increases with age, and some 60% of cases are found in men 65 and above. One in eight men in the US will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives. 

Prostate cancer is a serious and dangerous diagnosis. It is the second most common cause of death from cancer in US men. 

However, the survival rates for prostate cancer are encouragingly high. While survival rates do not indicate the experience of every man with prostate cancer, they do present an average. Understanding the survival rates of prostate cancer, as with any cancer, can help patients decide their treatment plan. 

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What Does “Survival Rate” Mean? 

A “survival rate” indicates the percentage of those diagnosed with a type of cancer who survive over a certain period of time compared to their peers without the disease. Survival rates are usually measured across a five-year or ten-year span. 

For example, if the five-year survival rate of a cancer in men is 80%, that means men diagnosed with that cancer are 80% as likely as other men their age without the cancer to survive five years after diagnosis. 

How Do Doctors Determine Survival Rates? 

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) studies and documents five-year survival rates in cancer patients. This information is gathered in the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) database

SEER does not study cancers based on their stages, but on the degree that they have spread. The categories of survival rates in SEER include: 

  • Localized: The cancer has not spread outside of the organ. 
  • Regional: The cancer has spread to nearby areas.
  • Distant: The cancer has spread to other, farther areas of the body. 

Doctors utilize this information to determine and share information regarding survival rates for cancer. Again, this is not predictive, only an average, and your experience may be different. 

What Is the Survival Rate for Prostate Cancer? 

The average five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is very optimistic: 98%. This means it is relatively unlikely that a man diagnosed with prostate cancer will die from the disease. 

This high survival rate is largely attributable to the fact that most prostate cancers are detected before the prostate cancer spreads to other organs—in other words, when it is localized. Prostate cancer is detected at these earlier stages with regular screenings, which is why it’s so important for men to begin screening for prostate cancer at age 50. 

That being said, there are aggressive prostate cancers that may decrease the chance of survival. The chances of survival dramatically decrease if the cancer has the opportunity to spread to further areas of the body. 

Survival Rates by SEER Stage

While the overall five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 98%, it does depend greatly on the SEER stage of your cancer. The survival rate by SEER stage is as follows:

  • Localized: Almost 100%
  • Regional: Almost 100%
  • Distant: 30%

Other Factors that May Affect Your Survival Rate

While the SEER database gathers a large sample of information about cancer patients in order to determine its survival rates, it is limited by its stages. There are many other factors that may influence a patient’s chance of survival, including: 

  • Age
  • General health
  • PSA level 
  • Habits, like smoking and exercise 
  • Family history 

Important Considerations When Reviewing Prostate Cancer Survival Rates 

Survival Rates Are Not Predictive 

The most important thing to remember when considering prostate cancer survival rates is that they are not a prediction. While these represent a national average, every cancer case is unique. If your prostate cancer is localized, you should still act quickly to treat it. And if your cancer is distant, your chance of survival may be higher than the average. 

While understanding survival rates can be a useful tool as you move forward with your treatment plan, this information is not a replacement for speaking with your doctor and cancer care team. Medical experts like those at SERO are familiar with your case and can provide additional information that falls outside of these statistics. 

Results Are Five Years Old 

Additionally, it’s important to note that these survival rates are based on treatments provided five years ago. With medical advancements in treatments, the survival rates for cancer are constantly improving. Men currently diagnosed with prostate cancer may have an even more optimistic outlook. 

The Importance of Screening

Finally, the promising survival rates of prostate cancer are largely thanks to frequent screening. By screening for prostate cancer through PSA tests and the like, doctors are able to identify prostate cancer when it is localized. This greatly increases a patient’s chance of survival. 

It is important that men 50 and above are screened for prostate cancer every two years. Depending on your circumstances, your doctor may recommend annual screening. 

Treating Prostate Cancer at SERO

Regardless of the statistics, a prostate cancer diagnosis can feel daunting. If you or a loved one were recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, you’ll want an expert and compassionate cancer care team to help you navigate your treatment decisions, treatment, and side effects. That’s what you’ll find at SERO. 

Radiation is one of the most effective treatments against prostate cancer. With locations at more than 20 Charlotte-area hospitals, it’s easy for cancer patients to access our more than 30 board-certified radiation oncologists. 

We’re proud of the accomplishments and expertise of our doctors and care teams, but we’re just as proud of their approach with every patient. From answering all of your questions to providing support when treatment becomes difficult, the cancer care team at SERO is a partner in your prostate cancer treatment.