Prostate Cancer Statistics

A term that you will become familiar with during your plan of treatment is Disease Free Survival (DFS).  As you might expect, it is the period after treatment that you experience no recurrence of cancer.  A physician will generally provide you with a prognosis which outlines the average time (in months or years) you can expect to achieve DFS.  Biostatisticians calculate and develop statistics associated with various cancers and compare them with statistics of people who do not have cancer.  Survival rates are based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease but statistics are not a predictor of what will happen with any individual patient.  Many other factors can affect an individual’s prognosis, such as age, environment, eating habits and general health.  Many times, the major contributor to DFS is the particular treatment available and administered to the patient.  Your doctor can best formulate a treatment plan and provide insight into what the statistics below mean to you as he/she knows your situation best.

According to the most recent data, when including all stages of prostate cancer, we realize the following:

The relative 5-year disease free survival rate is almost 100%

The relative 10-year disease free survival rate is 99%

The relative 15-year disease free survival rate is 94%

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) maintains a database referred to as SEER.  This database houses survival statistics on a national level and groups them into 3 stages.  These stages are local, regional, and distant stages.  Each stage represents the area affected by the growth of the tumor.  Local stage means the tumor is “localized” and there is no sign the cancer has spread outside the prostate.  About 4 out of 5 prostate cancers are found in this early stage.  Regional stage indicates the cancer has spread from the prostate to nearby areas.  Distant stage includes the rest of the cancers or those that have spread to distant lymph nodes, bones, or other organs.

Relative 5-Year survival by stage at the time of diagnosis

Stage % year survival rate

Local Nearly 100%

Regional Nearly 100%

Distant 28%

Another term you may hear from your doctor is Gleason score. This is a grading system expressed between a score of 1 to 10 and is used to evaluate the prognosis of the cancer and help guide treatment selection. Gleason scores are determined by taking small samples of the prostate tissue (biopsy) which are examined and graded. Prostate cancers with a higher Gleason score of 8 and above are very often more aggressive and have a worse prognosis.

How to read a Gleason score:

-2 through 5: These Gleason scores are no longer reported as cancer and are considered benign.

-6 or 7: Low grade prostate cancer. Many prostate cancers are found when they have reached this category.

-8 through 10: High grade prostate cancer. It’s likely the cancer has spread outside the prostate.

The majority of prostate cancers are slow growing, indolent cancers. The problem is how to determine which cancers are aggressive and need to be treated immediately and which patients can wait as there is no immediate need for treatment. Currently, there is no reliable, low-cost, easy-to-administer early detection test for aggressive prostate cancer (the PSA test does not distinguish between prostate cancer and benign conditions). Our first assay, for the detection of the type II transmembrane serine protease Hepsin, is being utilized to help determine if a prostate cancer patient is a good candidate for active surveillance, as opposed to more aggressive treatments. Ultimately, we feel our panel of tests, along with Hepsin, will be able to determine if aggressive prostate cancer is developing at the earliest stages of the disease. At Stage I Diagnostics, we are working diligently to improve the standard of care for prostate cancer patients by reducing unnecessary procedures and costs through better diagnosis of the disease.