Doctors often use the term survival rates to discuss the outlook of a patient’s cancer. These survival rates are reported using the term “5 year survival rate,” and refer to how many patients survive for 5 years after their diagnosis.
For men with prostate cancer, most men are cured or live for much longer than 5 years after their diagnosis.
This post may contain triggers regarding your prostate cancer struggle.
Some men may not wish to read about their survival rate. This post is designed to provide information about how survival ratings work and how they may pertain to you and your struggle with cancer.
This post is not intended to predict lifespan or prognosis, rather it should be used as a tool to help you better understand the language used to discuss cancer.
Five Year Relative Survival Rates for Men With Prostate Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, the survival rates of men with prostate cancer are as follows:
- 5-year relative survival rate: 100%
- 10-year relative survival rate: 99%
- 15-year relative survival rate: 94%
In order to compile this data, doctors will examine men who have been diagnosed and treated at least five years ago. These numbers compare the survival of men with prostate cancer to men who have not been diagnosed with prostate cancer. ¹
Let’s break down these numbers for a second: for every 100 prostate cancer cases monitored, 99% of patients will still be alive after 10 years, and 94% will be alive after 15 years. 100% of patients survive after 5 years.
This is probably due to the fact that prostate cancer grows so slowly in men that, when caught early, it may not require treatment for a few years.
While many cases are monitored and factored into these numbers, they do not necessarily take into account an individual’s health history, age, the treatment chosen, or the cancer’s response to the chosen treatment. All of these factors can impact a man’s survival rate.
Additionally, these cases only apply to prostate-cancer related deaths and do not reflect additional medical conditions that could contribute to mortality.
In order to understand how these numbers best reflect your personal prostate cancer case, you should speak to your doctor.
How Cancer Stage Impacts Survival
The stage and grade of your prostate cancer could be indicators of your relative survival rate.
Most men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in an early stage, called the local stage. This means the cancer is contained within the prostate gland and has not spread beyond it. Roughly 80% of prostate cancers are diagnosed in this stage. The estimated 5-year survival rate for men with this type of cancer is 100%. ²
The next stage of prostate cancer is the regional stage, or cancer that has metastasized to areas near the prostate. In some cases, this could include the lymph nodes.
Despite the growth rate of the cancer, the the 5 year survival rate at this stage is also 100%.
Men with distant stage cancer – or cancer that has advanced well beyond the prostate gland; to the bones, bloodstream, lymph nodes or organs – have a 28% 5-year relative survival rate.
Distantly metastatic cancer is, perhaps, one of the most unpredictable prostate cancer stages, particularly if it has spread to the bones. This type of cancer has no cure, and is instead “managed” rather than “treated” in order to prevent further growth. ³
Problems With Survival Rates
Despite its unpredictability, certain therapies can extend survival chances in men with this type of cancer. This makes it difficult to accurately measure relative survival rates for men whose cancer has spread to the bones.
In a study conducted by The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research, findings showed that newer treatments for treating metastatic prostate cancer have the ability to extend a man’s life span by roughly 24 months.
Because prostate cancer research is constantly producing new and innovative means of treatment, this skews survival rates considerably. ⁴
Additionally, researchers with the Division of Radiology and Urology at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint Luc in Belgium found that when prostate cancer spreads to the bones, it has severe negative impacts on survival rates.
This study found that the five-year relative survival rate of cancer without bone metastasis is roughly 56%, whereas the five-year relative survival rate of men with cancer that has metastasized to the bone was roughly 3 percent.
While these numbers may be cause for alarm, keep in mind that treatments for this type of cancer extend a man’s life expectancy considerably.
Age, health, tumor grade, treatment type, additional conditions, and PSA levels all play a role in a man’s likelihood to develop distantly advanced cancer, as well as his life expectancy. ⁵
You Are Not a Survival Statistic
The most important thing to remember about these survival rates is that they are broad: the do not speak to you and your unique situation.
Your doctor’s prognosis and the treatment options available to you all contribute to your survival rate, as well as your age and overall health.
Additionally, innovations in technology and medical breakthroughs of the past few years have been able to make tremendous strides in extending cancer patient life expectancy.
These survival rates are used as guidelines to help you understand your prognosis and do not necessarily reflect your personal survival rate.
If you find yourself depressed by your cancer diagnosis, speak to a professional.
- Survival rates for prostate cancer. (2014, December 22). http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-survival-rates
- Statistics and outlook for prostate cancer. (n.d.). http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/prostate-cancer/treatment/statistics-and-outlook-for-prostate-cancer
- Men with incurable prostate cancer living for twice as long as decade ago. (2013, July 31). http://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk/news-events/news/pages/20130731.aspx
- Modern Detection of Prostate Cancer Bone Metastasis: Is the Bone Scan Era Over? (n.d.). http://www.hindawi.com/journals/au/2012/893193/
- Prostate Cancer Survival Rates: What They Mean. (n.d.). http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/prostate-cancer-survival-rates-what-they-mean