Is prostate cancer serious?

Robert E. Reiter, MD
Urology
Prostate cancer is a very heterogeneous disease. It can range from extremely indolent and non-dangerous to life threatening. Approximately 30-50% of tumors in the prostate gland may not require aggressive treatment, but of course the remaining tumors pose variable threats to the individual and likely require treatment.
Prostate cancer, although common, is often treatable if caught early. It is one of the slower growing cancers, so most often, people can live for many years with prostate cancer. However, all cancers are to be taken seriously and, if allowed to progress to advanced stages, can be deadly.
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After skin cancer, cancer of the prostate is the most common cancer in American men. This disease is extremely common and often produces no symptoms, because it usually (but not always) spreads quite slowly. (For prostate cancer at an early stage, the likelihood of surviving for 10 more years is almost 90%.)

Prostate cancers occur most frequently in older men. Only a small percentage of older men who have prostate cancer will die from the disease; they are much more likely to die from some other cause. Even so, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men. Unfortunately, the rate has been increasing about 6% a year -- oddly enough, because of greater efforts at early detection of the disease.

The seriousness of prostate cancer depends on the stage at which it is diagnosed. Five-year survival rates can range from 100 percent for early stages that have yet to spread beyond the prostate to 30 percent for later stages in which the cancer has spread to surrounding organs. If the cancer has become metastatic, or spread to distant organs or the bones, then no cure is possible and death cannot be prevented, usually coming within three years of diagnosis.

Continue Learning about Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer

One of the most common cancers among men, prostate cancer can be very aggressive and spread to your bones and other organs. Cancer usually develops very slowly in the prostate gland, which produces fluid that helps create a man's ...

semen. If found early, when the cancer is confined only to the gland, prostate cancer is very treatable.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.