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Prostate Cancer (cont.)

What Happens

Almost all prostate cancers are discovered in their early stages, when the cancer cells are only in the prostate. The 5-year survival rate is almost 100% when the cancer is found at this stage.1 The 5-year survival rate is the percentage of men who are still alive 5 years after they have been diagnosed. It is just an average. Everyone's case is different, and this number may not show what will happen in your case.

Prostate cancer is a common cancer affecting older men. About 17 out of 100 men living in the United States will get prostate cancer. Out of these 17 men, 3 will die of prostate cancer. This means that 97 out of 100 men will die from something other than prostate cancer.2

It usually is a very slow-growing cancer that takes years to grow large enough to cause any problems. Sometimes, though, it grows quickly. When prostate cancer spreads, it goes first to surrounding tissue, then to lymph nodesClick here to see an illustration. in the pelvis, and then on to the bones, lungs, or other organs. For more information, see the topic Prostate Cancer, Advanced or Metastatic.

What Increases Your Risk

Being older than 50 is the main risk factor for prostate cancer. A risk factor is anything that makes you more likely to get a particular disease. About 65 out of 100 new prostate cancers are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older.1 About 70 out of 100 prostate cancer deaths occur in men who are older than 75.3

Your chances of getting the disease are higher if other men in your family have had it. Your risk is doubled if your father or brother had prostate cancer. Your risk also depends on the age at which your relative was diagnosed. But most men who get prostate cancer have no family history of the disease.

Men whose families carry the gene changes that cause breast cancer, BRCA1 or BRCA2, are thought to be at increased risk for prostate cancer.

Race and prostate cancer

African-American men and Jamaican men of African descent have a greater chance of getting the kind of prostate cancer that grows and spreads. Experts believe that there are many reasons for the differences in the prostate cancer disease and death rates among different races and around the world. One reason is a genetic link. Researchers have recently discovered a gene that occurs more often in African-American men and raises their risk of prostate cancer. Other genes may be involved too. It is hoped that these findings will lead to new treatments.4

Asian-American men develop prostate cancer more often than Asian men living in Japan and China. But the incidence of prostate cancer in Asian-American men is lower than that in Caucasian men and much lower than that in African-American men. A Western high-fat diet may be the cause.

Other factors that may increase your risk

  • What you eat. Men who live in countries where people eat more red meat and fats are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from prostate cancer, according to some studies. Eating more lycopene, found in tomatoes and beets, may decrease the risk.
  • Hormones. Researchers are studying the link between high testosterone levels and prostate cancer.
  • Where you live. There are places in the world where the rates of prostate cancer are low, such as in Japan or China. But when Japanese or Chinese men move to countries where the rate is higher, such as the United States, their rates go up.5

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