Prevalence of prostate cancer in the U.S.A.


A report from the Centers for Disease Control, issued last week, suggests that as of January 1, 2007 there were nearly 2.3 million men living in the U.S. after a diagnosis of prostate cancer. The total number of people living with a specific disorder in a defined area at a point in time is known as the “prevalence” of that disorder (as compared to the “incidence,” which is the number of new cases of that disorder each year).

The relatively brief article in the March 11 issue of MMWR (the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) addressed the continuing increase in the number of Americans who are living — and often for a very long time — after an initial diagnosis of cancer: 11.7 million in January 2007 as compared to 3.0 million in 1971 and 9.8 million in 2001.

Estimated data about prostate cancer that appear in the report include the following:

  • Total prevalence: 2.276 million
  • Prevalence among men > 85 years of age: 0.262 million
  • Prevalence among men of 65 to 84 years of age: 1.550 million
  • Prevalence among men of 40 to 64 years of age: 0.463 million
  • Prevalence among men of 20 to 39 years of age: less than 500

These data are, of course, only estimates based on information from nine of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program centers around the country, so they should be interpreted with a degree of caution, but they do continue to confirm what one might reasonably expect to see:

  • The vast majority of men living with prostate cancer (79.6 percent) are more than 65 years of age.
  • Prostate cancer occurs, but is extremely rare, in men of less than 40 years of age (0.2 percent).

    2 Responses

    1. “as of January 1, 2007 there were nearly 2.3 million men living in the U.S. after a diagnosis of prostate cancer,” vs. “the number of Americans who are living — and often for a very long time — after an initial diagnosis of cancer: 11.7 million in January 2007” is an apparent contradiction. Please explain.

    2. Dear Dave:

      You are confusing those men living after a diagnosis (with or without treatment) of prostate cancer — that’s the 2.3 million — with the total number of people living in America after a diagnosis (with or without treatment) of all cancers, which is the 11.7 million.

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