A Snapshot of Prostate Cancer

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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.

Line graphs showing U.S. Prostate Cancer Incidence and mortality per 100,000 Men, by race and ethnicity from 1991-2011. In 2011, African Americans have the highest incidence, followed by whites, Hispanics, Asians/Pacific Islanders and American Indians/Alaska Natives.. In 2011, African Americans have the highest mortality, followed by American Indians/Alaska Natives, whites, Hispanics, and Asians/Pacific Islanders.

Source: Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and the National Center for Health Statistics. Additional statistics and charts are available at the SEER Web site.

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.

Pie chart of NCI Prostate Cancer Research Portfolio.  Percentage of total dollars by scientific area.  Fiscal year 2013.  Biology, 21%.  Etiology/causes of cancer, 11%.  Prevention, 8%.  Early detection, diagnosis, and prognosis, 18%.  Treatment, 26%.  Cancer control, survivorship, and outcomes research, 12%.  Scientific model systems, 4%.

Source: NCI Funded Research Portfolio. Only projects with assigned common scientific outline area codes are included. A description of relevant research projects can be found on the NCI Funded Research Portfolio Web site.

Other NCI programs and activities relevant to prostate cancer include:

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

  • Posted: November 5, 2014