What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer develops in the prostate, a gland of the male reproductive system. The majority of prostate cancers are not aggressive and barely progress over an extended period of time. Some prostate cancers however, do grow more aggressively and infiltrate surrounding structures or metastasize predominantly either into the lymph nodes or bones.
With approximately 900.000 new cases per year, prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in men worldwide. It is the sixth leading cause of death from cancer with approximately 260.000 deaths annually. It represents the third most fatal form of cancer among men (after lung and colorectal cancer)¹. While it is rare that men younger than 50 develop this disease, the number of new cases then increases steadily with age.
Clearly established risk factors for prostate cancer are age, family history and ethnicity. Potential risk factors like alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, obesity and physical inactivity are still under investigation. Overall, the evidence for these risk factors is inconclusive.
The 5-year relative survival rate for prostate cancer is 100% for men with the disease confined to the prostate. However, when the disease has spread to distant areas, the survival rate drops to less than 50%². Thus, early detection is crucial.
In most cases, patients diagnosed with prostate cancer have enough time to gather information and carefully compare all treatment options.
Globocan. Prostate Cancer. http://globocan.iarc.fr/ 2008.
Institute NC. Stage Distribution and 5-year Relative Survival by Stage at Diagnosis of prostate cancer. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/prost.html.