How Deadly Is Prostate Cancer?

Experts at the Prostate Cancer Foundation explain that the prostate, not much larger than a ping-pong ball, is a reproductive organ situated between the penis and the rectum. The gland plays a role in the production of seminal fluid, which facilitates the transport of sperm. According to the National Cancer Institute, just shy of 13% of men are estimated to be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their life. It is thought that approximately 34,700 deaths were due to prostate cancer in 2023.

While not always attributed to prostate cancer, symptoms such as trouble peeing, a weak urine stream, frequent nighttime urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, burning sensations while peeing, or pain during ejaculation may be signs of prostate cancer, explains the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is somewhat debated, however, as the Prostate Cancer Foundation oppositely states that difficulty peeing is not generally associated with prostate cancer. More often than not, men do not experience any symptoms. Despite this, prostate cancer can be cured and survival rates stand at well over 90% (per Johns Hopkins Medicine).

Prostate cancer survival rates are high

With treatment, individuals diagnosed with stages 1 through 3 of prostate cancer will likely be in complete remission within five years, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. During this five-year period, the odds of survival are about the equivalent of that of a man who does not have prostate cancer. The relative survival rate for prostate cancer patients after 10 years from diagnosis drops only to 98%. Fifteen years following diagnosis, the relative survival rate stands at 95%. For those with stage 4 prostate cancer, the odds of survival over five years fall to 28%.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests are used for the early detection of prostate cancer (per CDC). By measuring the amount of PSA in one's blood, it can help doctors determine whether a patient may be at risk of prostate cancer. While not advised by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, digital rectal examinations (DRE) are also sometimes implemented by physicians to help detect prostate abnormalities. Men between the ages of 55 to 69 are encouraged to consult with their healthcare provider about whether a PSA test is recommended depending on their prostate cancer risk level (via CDC).