The five year survival rate for stage 1 prostate cancer is 100%, but stage 4 prostate cancer life expectancy is not very encouraging. While providing information on late stage prostate cancer life expectancy, this HealthHearty article also describes what is meant by staging and grading of prostate cancer.
Statistics show that more and more men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. Various tests like PSA (prostate specific antigen) test, DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) test, ultrasound sonography, etc., help diagnose the cancer. Staging and grading of cancer not only help design the treatment but they also help determine how well the cancer may respond to the treatment. Staging, generally, is concerned with the spread of cancer. The Gleason grading system involves classification of cancer cells. It helps determine aggressiveness of the cells and their likelihood of spreading.
There is no specific normal or abnormal level of PSA in the blood, as various factors can cause a man’s PSA level to fluctuate. 4 ng/ml is usually considered as the normal blood PSA level. Aging or other prostate problems can affect PSA levels, but usually, higher PSA levels indicate higher risk of prostate cancer. Men with PSA above 20 ng/ml have 90% risk of cancer. Because it is normally not possible to cure cancer at an advanced stage, stage 4 prostate cancer life expectancy is poor as compared to the early stage life expectancy. People with inoperable prostate cancer have poorer life expectancy.
A Gleason score of 2 to 4 means that the change in the structure of the cells is minimum, and they still look very much like normal cells. Such cells will not spread quickly. A score of 8 to 10 indicates that the cells have changed drastically. They hardly look like normal cells and are likely to be aggressive. A score of 5 to 7 indicates intermediate risk. Those under 6 have a better prognosis.
Staging of Prostate Cancer
- Stage I : The Gleason score is 6 or less, and the PSA level is less than 10. Cancer at this stage is normally not detectable in an ultrasound test or in a DRE test, as the tumor is very small. It is within the prostate and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes. It is usually discovered accidentally during a surgery carried out for another purpose. Prostate ultrasound and biopsy can be performed after detection of elevated blood PSA levels.
- Stage II : From this stage onwards, the Gleason score and the PSA level may vary from person to person. As the tumor grows in size, it can be detected in a DRE test or sonogram, but the tumor is still confined to the prostate gland. It is in one half or less of only one side (left or right) of the prostate. It hasn’t spread to lymph nodes and nearby organs, or it has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but has not invaded nearby organs.
- Stage III : The cancerous cells spread out from the original site and invade the seminal vesicles. They do not spread to nearby lymph nodes or to nearby organs in the body.
- Stage IV : The cancer moves out of the seminal vesicles and invades the lymph nodes. The size and number of tumors increase, and the cancerous cells spread into the nearby organs, such as the bladder and the rectum. In stage four prostate cancer, even bones and other parts of the body like lungs and liver are likely to be invaded by the cancerous cells.
Prostate Cancer Life Expectancy
Cancer life expectancy depends on the stage of the cancer and on the treatment that the patient undergoes. Early detection of cancer and prompt treatment help increase the life expectancy of the patient. Once prostate cancer is detected, prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate), radiotherapy (radiation treatment), watchful waiting (monitoring the cancer), hormone therapy, and other types of treatments are recommended by doctors.
To undergo a prostatectomy, the cancer needs to be detected in the early stages. Once the cancer metastasizes, it is difficult to remove it, or it is difficult to control its growth. So, survival rate and life expectancy for stage 4 prostate cancer cannot be favorable.
Stage IV Cancer Life Expectancy
➺ The five-year relative survival rate for prostate cancer that has spread to distant organs is 28%. This means about 28% of the patients with stage 4 prostate cancer will live for five years.
➺ According to certain studies, about 98% men with low or intermediate grade prostate cancer will live for more than five years. However, only 67% men (roughly speaking, 2 out of 3 men) with end stage prostate cancer will live for more than five years.
➺ End stage prostate cancer life expectancy is normally less than five years. It may vary according to the age and overall health of the patient, the type of treatment, and the extent and location of metastases (whether it involves bones, liver), etc.
➺ Studies show that the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer without bone metastasis is 56%. For prostate cancer with bone metastasis, it is only 3%.
➺ The five-year survival rate for prostate cancer with bone metastasis and skeletal involvement is unfortunately less than 1%.
Usually, at stage IV, doctors assure life only for three years. The life expectancy not only depends on the treatment, but also on the physical and mental health of the patient. Patients who are loved and cared by their family members can fight the disease courageously. Those with strong will power live longer. There are examples of patients who have lived for eight years, or even further. Some recent studies show that a prostatectomy, even in late stage prostate cancer, can double or triple the life expectancy of a patient (it can be about 14 or 15 years). But more studies are required to prove this fact.
Statistics show that prostate cancer is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. and second leading cause of ‘death due to cancer’ in men. Being old, belonging to the African-American race, and having a family history of prostate cancer increases one’s risk of having prostate cancer. Obesity also increases the risk of metastases and death. In 1980, one in 11 men used to have this cancer, while today, one in 6 men have prostate cancer.
Many times, older men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. The cancer, if not aggressive, may not end up affecting their life span. Statistics are more helpful to doctors and researchers than to common men. Each patient is unique, and you cannot predict the life expectancy of an individual patient with the help of statistics.
This article is for informative purposes only, and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by a health care professional.