If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, a lot of uncertainty lies ahead of you. One of the biggest concerns we face with our clients is their uncertainty: what does this mean for your quality of life? Will you automatically be unable to qualify for life insurance? How much time do you have?
It’s surprising to us that so many men know so little about their prostate cancer diagnosis. We pride ourselves on doing all we can to assuage any worries you may have, which is why we have compiled a list of facts about prostate cancer.
We firmly stand by the old adage “knowledge is power,” and we want to make sure that you armed with the knowledge necessary to ease your stress and fears.
Prostate cancer is a real possibility for all males; however, knowing the statistics and risk factors associated with its development can reduce your likelihood of getting the disease.
Prostate Cancer: The Facts
In this section, we’ll review whom cancer effects, your ethnic and socioeconomical backgrounds and geographic locations. Also, we’ll be discussing the stages of prostate cancer.
Who Does Prostate Cancer Effect?
Prostate cancer is the result of a variety of factors, both controllable and uncontrollable. The long and short of it is that prostate cancer can affect all men, across all age groups and demographics.
However, there is evidence that suggests that certain men may have a higher risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Below, we’ve compiled some information on prostate cancer susceptibility.
Men Over 50:
SEER, the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program, has conducted numerous studies indicating that age is a high risk factor for the development of prostate cancer. In a study conducted from 2007-2011, SEER found that new cases of prostate cancer were found in men who were between the ages of 65 and 74. The second most commonly-diagnosed age range? Between the ages of 55 and 64.
That same SEER study cited that ethnic background could account for higher incidence rates. For example, the study found that African American men were three times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than American Indian or Alaska Native men, and twice as likely to develop prostate cancer than white men. In addition to the staggering diagnostic rate, African American males are twice as likely to die from this disease.
A 2012 study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation found that chromosomal variations, higher PSA levels and the rate of cell death among African American men could potentially be linked to this disparity, as well as to more aggressive forms of the disease.
SEER’s study found that, out of 100,000 men surveyed, American Indian and Alaskan Native men had the lowest incidence rate of prostate cancer, with a mere 71.5 cases diagnosed. Close behind were men of Asian or Pacific Island descent (79.3 cases reported). SEER’s results aren’t unusual; the CDC reported similar findings linking ethnicity to prostate cancer incidence rates.
An interesting caveat to these findings is that, while men of Pacific Island, Asian, Alaskan Native and American Indian backgrounds have the lowest prostate cancer incidence rates, the disease accounts for the second leading cause of death among these groups.
While ethnicity can be pointed to as a contributing factor in the development of prostate cancer, research shows that socioeconomic status may play a role in the detection, development and mortality rates of prostate cancer.
If this shocks you, it shouldn’t. Poorer areas have less access to healthcare resources, meaning that they may not be aware of PSA screenings and other methods of early detection. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation study referenced earlier in this article reported similar findings, citing that “socioeconomic status explained the difference in mortality rates between black and white patients.”
The case for socioeconomic factors in cancer development is a strong one, particularly if we take a moment to study the links between diet and prostate cancer carcinogenesis. According to the American Diabetes Association, poverty is directly linked to obesity, because access to fresh, healthy foods in these areas is scarce. Obesity has been pointed to by numerous studies as a key prostate cancer risk factor.
Because your geographic location directly impacts your dietary choices, exposure to certain element and access to health care, it only makes sense that where you live is linked to your likelihood of developing prostate cancer.
In fact, this correlation is so strong that a study by the American Association for Cancer Research Journals discovered that as men moved from areas with low incidence rates to areas with high rates, their risk of developing cancer increased.
Before you read on, we want to caution that this post may contain triggers regarding your struggle with prostate cancer. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, please visit the American Cancer Society’s website for resources and support groups.
The Stage of Your Cancer:
Before we continue, we’d like to emphasize that this post is not intended to predict lifespan, nor to provide a prognosis. The facts detailed below are simply tools to help you better understand the terminology used to discuss prostate cancer.
The stage and grade of your prostate cancer can provide an indicator of your potential survival rate. Stage is used to describe the state of the cancer when it was first diagnosed, and grade refers to the appearance of the cancerous cells.
Most men are diagnosed with prostate cancer when it is in the early stage, also known as the local stage. In this stage, the cancer is contained within the prostate gland and had not spread beyond it. Thanks to breakthroughs in early detection, about 80% of prostate cancers are caught at this stage, and the five year survival rate is 100%.
A regional stage of cancer means that the cancer has metastasized outside of the prostate gland to the surrounding areas, such as lymph nodes. In spite of the growth at this stage, the five year survival rate for man with regional prostate cancer is also 100%.
Distant-stage cancer is cancer that has advanced well beyond the prostate gland. This could mean the bones, organs, lymph nodes or bloodstream. There is no cure for this stage of cancer; it is “managed” rather than “treated” to prevent further growth. Cancer that has distantly metastasized is often unpredictable, and the estimated survival rate for this type of cancer is 28% over five years.
Of course, many factors impact an individual’s likelihood for developing distantly metastasized prostate cancer, including therapy choice, age, tumor grade the presence of other medical conditions and PSA levels.
If the cancer has spread to the bones, it is perhaps most unpredictable. According to the Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research, new treatments for combating metastatic prostate cancer have the potential to extend lifespan by roughly 24 months. As we constantly evolve and come up with new ways to treat prostate cancers, this lifespan will continue to extend.
However, prostate cancer that has spread to the bones still has negative impacts on survival rates, according to researchers from the Division of Radiology and Urology at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint Luc in Belgium.
These researchers found that, without bone metastasis, five year survival rates amounted to roughly 56%. With bone metastasis, those survival rates dropped to roughly 3%. If these numbers alarm you, keep in mind that new research is constantly emerging and extending lifespans for those with cancer.
Let’s look a bit more closely at reported survival rates.
As reported by the American Cancer Society, a man with prostate cancer has a relative 5-year survival rate of 100%, a 10-year survival rate of 99% and a 15-year survival rate of 94%.
Doctors compiled this data by examining men who have been diagnosed and treated at least five years ago. What these numbers mean is that for every 100 men diagnosed with prostate cancer, 100% of patients will be alive within 5 years; 99% within 10 years and 94% within fifteen years.
Remember that prostate cancer grows so slowly in men that treatment may not even be required for a few years and, in some cases, at all.
At the end of the day, these facts and figures are just that: facts and figures. They do not necessarily reflect you or your individual situation. Be sure to speak to your doctor to find out how these statistics apply to you.
If you have a history of Prostate Cancer and need help in securing affordable life insurance. Please complete the online form or call us today, so we can assist you in purchasing the right coverage for your loved ones. We’ll match you with the right insurance company.