Prostate Cancer Facts



Facts About Prostate Cancer:

bullet- In recent years, the incidence of prostate cancer in the United States has exploded. Current data from the American Cancer Society predicts nearly 179,300 new cases of the disease will be diagnosed in 1999, with 37,000 men succumbing to the illness. These sobering statistics tell only a small part of prostate cancer's growing and frightening reach into the American family.

bullet- Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among American men (excluding the highly curable basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers) and the second-leading cause of cancer death in men. In 1999, it is estimated that 179,300 men will be diagnosed with and 37,000 men will die of prostate cancer.

bullet- Prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates are close to two times higher for African American men than for white men.

bullet- Risk factors: Incidence of prostate cancer increases with age; recent genetic studies suggest that an inherited predisposition may be responsible for 5-10% of prostate cancer; dietary fat may be linked to prostate cancer.

bullet- There are no early warning signs for prostate cancer. Many prostate cancer symptoms are nonspecific and may be similar to those caused by benign conditions such as infection or prostate enlargement.

bullet- Patients diagnosed with prostate cancer when it is still localized to the gland have a five-year survival rate of 100 percent. Advanced prostate cancer is not curable.


Guidelines for Early Detection:

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests and the digital rectal examination should be offered annually, beginning at age 50, to men with a life expectancy of at least 10 years and to younger men who are in high-risk groups: those with a strong familial predisposition (two or more affected first-degree relatives) or African Americans. Because PSA testing remains controversial, men should decide for themselves, in consultation with their physician, whether the test is right for them or not.


Treatment Options:

- Treatment choice depends on a number of factors - the size and aggressiveness of the tumor, the extent to which the cancer has spread throughout the body, and the patient's PSA level, overall medical condition and age.

- Localized prostate cancer is usually treated by surgery, radiation or careful observation without immediate active treatment (watchful waiting).

- More advanced disease may be treated by radiation, hormonal treatment, chemotherapy, investigational therapies or combinations of these options.

- Patients should thoroughly discuss each option, its effectiveness and its side effects, with their physician before coming to a treatment decision.



New methods for detecting and treating prostate cancer are needed. The Prostate Cancer Initiative is supporting clinical-trial testing in prostate cancer patients and novel immunotherapies such as vaccines and antibody-based treatment. Additionally, the Initiative is supporting clinical investigations that will define immunological features of prostate cancers that indicate the disease progression, and that identifying targets on prostate cancer that can serve as the basis for new immunotherapies.




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