Prostate Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival rates for prostate cancer

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person’s prognosis (outlook). Some men with prostate cancer may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you would rather not read the survival rates, skip to the next section.

When discussing cancer survival statistics, doctors often use a number called the 5-year survival rate. The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many of these people live much longer than 5 years (and many are cured).

Five-year relative survival rates, such as the numbers below, assume that some men will die of other causes and compare the observed survival with that expected for men without prostate cancer. This is a better way to see the impact of the cancer on survival.

To get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at men who were treated at least 5 years ago. Improvements in detection and treatment since then may result in a better outlook for people now being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they can’t predict what will happen in any man’s case. Many other factors can affect a man’s outlook, such as his age and health, the treatment received, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below apply to you, as he or she knows your situation best.

According to the most recent data, when including all stages of prostate cancer:

  • The relative 5-year survival rate is almost 100%
  • The relative 10-year survival rate is 99%
  • The 15-year relative survival rate is 94%

Keep in mind that just as 5-year survival rates are based on patients diagnosed and first treated more than 5 years ago, 10-year survival rates are based on patients diagnosed more than 10 years ago (and 15-year survival rates are based on patients diagnosed at least 15 years ago).

Survival rates by stage

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) maintains a large national database on survival statistics for different types of cancer, known as the SEER database. The SEER database does not group cancers by AJCC stage, but instead groups cancers into local, regional, and distant stages.

  • Local stage means that there is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the prostate. This corresponds to AJCC stages I and II. About 4 out of 5 prostate cancers are found in this early stage.
  • Regional stage means the cancer has spread from the prostate to nearby areas. This includes stage III cancers and the stage IV cancers that haven’t spread to distant parts of the body, such as T4 tumors and cancers that have spread to nearby lymph nodes (N1).
  • Distant stage includes the rest of the stage IV cancers – cancers that have spread to distant lymph nodes, bones, or other organs (M1).

5-year relative survival by stage at the time of diagnosis


    5-year relative survival rate


    nearly 100%


    nearly 100%



Last Medical Review: 12/22/2014
Last Revised: 03/12/2015