Background: Outcomes of treatment for young men compared with older men with prostate cancer are poorly defined outside of limited institutional series. In this study, the authors examined the association between age at diagnosis and grade, stage, treatment, and survival outcomes in men who were diagnosed during the era of prostate-specific antigen testing.
Methods: The National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database was used to identify men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1988 and 2003. Men ages 35 years to 74 years were stratified by age at diagnosis to examine differences in tumor characteristics, treatment, and survival within each age group.
Results: In total, 318,774 men ages 35 years to 74 years were identified who had been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the prostate between 1988 and 2003. The proportion of men aged < or =55 years at diagnosis increased over the study period from 2.3% between the years 1988 and 1991 to 9% between the years 2000 and 2003, and the median age at diagnosis decreased from 72 years in 1988 to 68 years in 2003. Younger men were diagnosed less frequently with organ-confined tumors (P < .001) but were less likely to be diagnosed with high-grade cancer (P < .001). Older men were more likely to receive no local therapy or external beam radiation than young men (P < .001 for trend). Among men who had tumors with a Gleason score between 5 and 7, overall survival was worse with advancing age. However, among all age groups with high grade and stage, the youngest men (ages 35-44 years) were at the highest risk of all-cause and cancer-specific death.
Conclusions: Age at diagnosis among men with prostate cancer continued to decline. Younger men were more likely to undergo prostatectomy, have lower grade cancer, and, as a group, to have better overall and equivalent cancer-specific survival at 10 years compared with older men. Among men with high grade and locally advanced prostate cancer, the youngest men had a particularly poor prognosis compared with older men.