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Common Questions: The Patient

What is the prognosis with prostate cancer surgery? What are the survival rates?

Prostate cancer prognosis depends on the severity of the prostate cancer and of competing illnesses. These are assessed from the pathological inspection of the prostate after the radical prostatectomy and from the medical record. Such information permits a more detailed assessment of prognosis than information available from pre-surgical data. The reason that post-operative data are more informative is that pre-operative staging and grading are somewhat imprecise. With post-operative pathological data in hand, one can make better assessments of prognosis.

According to estimates of prostate cancer survival rates after radical prostatectomy published by Dr. Krongrad and his colleagues (Krongrad A, Lai H, Lai S: Survival after radical prostatectomy. JAMA 278:44-46, 1997), prognosis depends strongly on age, grade, and stage. These estimates, thought to be the most generalizable estimates of survival after radical prostatectomy, permit relatively fine assessments. As example, a 60-year old man whose specimen shows a moderate-grade, organ-confined cancer has a 97% chance of being alive or dying of other causes in the first ten years after radical prostatectomy.
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