By age 50, about one-third of American men have microscopic signs of prostate cancer. By age 75, half to three-quarters of men will have some cancerous changes in their prostate glands. Not all of these men will actually die from prostate cancer.
You already have things in your body that you would rather not think about: urine, feces, infection and strange microscopic creatures living on your skin. Chances are none of these will kill you either.
Most of these cancers remain latent, producing no signs of symptoms, or are so indolent, or slow-growing, that they never become a serious threat to health. Adult men might be diagnosed at any age as increasing numbers of men diagnosed in their thirties and forties are beginning to show.
A much smaller number of men will actually be treated for prostate cancer. About 16 percent of American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lives; 8 percent will develop significant symptoms; and 3 percent will die of the disease.
Until the last several years, prostate cancer death rates had been rising steadily. For example, this cancer in 1932 killed 17 of every 100,000 American men. By 1991, this number had reached 25 in 100,000. Since then, however, the death rates have been declining. The reasons for both the earlier increase and the recent decline in the prostate cancer death rates are unclear.
Many men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, but none of them know if their cancer would prove deadly if untreated. Medical Science is not yet able to tell us which prostate cancers in which men will prove deadly and which will simply exist in a non life threatening way.
One thing is clear. Gathering information and hearing the stories of other prostate cancer men is lifesaving.
Every doctor wants a happy patient. Only the so called "bad docs" will object to you asking as many questions as you need answered. Prostate cancer is not easy. But, armed with answers, you will find your way to a satisfying and life extending treatment choice.
Photograph of prostate gland and seminal vesicles after surgery.
last modified September, 2005