A Snapshot of Prostate Cancer
Incidence and Mortality
Prostate cancer is the most common nonskin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men in the United States. It is estimated that, in 2014, 233,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States, and nearly 29,500 men will die of the disease. African American men have a higher incidence rate than, and at least twice the mortality rate of, men of other racial/ethnic groups.
Prostate cancer incidence rates in the United States began to increase dramatically in the late 1980s with the widespread use of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to detect prostate cancer. Since the early 1990s, prostate cancer incidence has been declining. Mortality rates for prostate cancer also have declined since the mid-1990s.
Risk factors for prostate cancer include increasing age, African ancestry, and a family history of prostate cancer. Although PSA testing has been used widely for prostate cancer screening, most advisory groups now recommend against routine screening as more has been learned about the benefits and harms of PSA testing. Standard treatments for prostate cancer include watchful waiting or active surveillance, surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, biological therapy, and bisphosphonate therapy.
Assuming that incidence and survival rates follow recent trends, it is estimated that $13.0 billion1 will be spent on prostate cancer care in the United States in 2014.
NCI’s Investment in Prostate Cancer Research
To learn more about the research NCI conducts and supports in prostate cancer, visit the NCI Funded Research Portfolio (NFRP). The NFRP includes information about research grants, contract awards, and intramural research projects funded by NCI. When exploring this information, it should be noted that approximately half of the NCI budget supports basic research that may not be specific to one type of cancer. By its nature, basic research cuts across many disease areas, contributing to our knowledge of the underlying biology of cancer and enabling the research community to make advances against many cancer types. For these reasons, the funding levels reported in NFRP may not definitively report all research relevant to a given category.
Other NCI programs and activities relevant to prostate cancer include:
- NCI currently supports an extended follow-up of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer (PLCO) Screening Trial, a large randomized clinical trial that that was designed to determine the effects of four screening tests on cancer-related mortality. Through the ongoing Etiology and Early Marker Studies component of the PLCO trial, researchers are analyzing biological materials and risk factor information that were collected from PLCO trial participants before the diagnosis of disease to better understand prostate cancer risk factors and to identify early biomarkers of disease.
- The Prostate Cancer Modeling project, conducted by the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network, explores the natural history of prostate cancer and its possible implications for screening efficacy, screening policy, overdiagnosis, novel biomarkers, outcomes of care, and health disparities in prostate cancer screening and treatment.
- The Prostate Cancer Program includes staff from NCI’s Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, and Urologic Oncology branches, who are conducting clinical training, clinical research, and clinical care to provide an individualized treatment strategy for each prostate cancer patient.
- The Tumor Microenvironment Network (TMEN) is exploring the role of the microenvironment in tumor initiation and progression. One TMEN center is studying the mechanisms of prostate cancer cell dormancy in the microenvironment of the bone marrow.
- Researchers with The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) program are systematically identifying the major genomic changes involved in more than 20 cancers, including prostate cancer, using state-of-the-art genomic technologies.
- Eight prostate cancer–specific Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs) are conducting studies to better understand how prostate cancer develops, to improve clinical decision-making for administering hormone therapy, to understand the genetics of tumor development and progression, and to identify prognostic markers for prostate cancer.
Selected Advances in Prostate Cancer Research
- In a mouse model, overexpression of a mutant protein commonly found in prostate cancer—in the context of the loss of a protein commonly lost in prostate cancer—restored androgen receptor signaling, thereby activating targets involved in cell death, inflammation, migration, and angiogenesis and resulting in rapid-onset, widely invasive prostate cancer. Published June 2013. [PubMed Abstract]
- In a mouse model of spontaneous prostate cancer, the combination of the antiandrogen enzalutamide and a therapeutic vaccine prolonged survival more than either treatment alone or no treatment, particularly in mice with advanced-stage tumors. These results suggest that this may be a treatment strategy for men with castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Published September 2013. [PubMed Abstract]
- In a case-control study nested in the placebo arm of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, men with chronic inflammation in non-cancerous prostate tissue collected by needle biopsy had nearly twice the risk of high-grade prostate cancer as men with no inflammation in non-cancerous prostate tissue, suggesting a link between chronic inflammation and prostate cancer. Published April 2014. [PubMed Abstract]
- In a large extended follow-up study of nearly 49,500 men, vasectomy was associated with a small increase in risk of lethal prostate cancer. Published July 2014. [PubMed Abstract]
Additional Resources for Prostate Cancer
- What You Need To Know About™ Prostate Cancer
Describes treatment options, types of cancer doctors, second opinion, follow-up care, and sources of support for someone recently diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- NCI Prostate Cancer Home Page
Information about prostate cancer treatment, prevention, genetics, causes, screening, clinical trials, research and statistics from the National Cancer Institute.
- Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test
A fact sheet that describes the PSA screening test for prostate cancer and explains the benefits and limitations of the test.
- Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer
A fact sheet that describes hormone therapy and its role in treating prostate cancer. Includes information about the different types of hormone therapy, how they are used, and possible side effects.
- Prostate Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)
Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of prostate cancer.
- Clinical Trials for Prostate Cancer
- 1 Cancer Prevalence and Cost of Care Projections, in 2010 dollars.