Purpose: In the last 2 decades there has been increasing awareness of and research on prostate cancer. We considered prostate cancer in the context of other major causes of morbidity and mortality.
Materials and methods: Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results, and other government databases were used to 1) compare the incidence and mortality burden of prostate cancer with that of other cancers and major causes of death; 2) examine the changing trends in prostate cancer mortality using joinpoint analysis and 3) consider the future burden of prostate cancer in the United States due to aging. To project the future burden of prostate cancer year 2000 mortality rates were applied to age specific population projections from the United States Census Bureau.
Results: Prostate cancer continues to have the highest incidence rate and the second highest mortality rate of any cancer in American men and it ranks among the top 10 overall causes of death. The mortality rate of prostate cancer has been decreasing steadily at approximately 4% yearly since 1994, while the incidence rate has been increasing at slightly less than 2% yearly since 1995.
Conclusions: The overall decrease in the mortality rate of prostate cancer since 1994 may be due to improvements in screening, diagnosis and treatments. Despite the decreasing mortality rate the aging of the American population and the exponential increase in prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates by age are important to consider when assessing the future morbidity and mortality burden of this disease and the appropriate allocation of health care resources.