Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men, after skin cancer.
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the US. It is estimated that around 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime, and this year alone, more than 220,000 men in the US will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis.
While prostate cancer can be a serious condition, most men survive it. According to the American Cancer Society, the relative 5-year survival rate for prostate cancer is almost 100%.
Previous research has suggested a man's prostate cancer survival may depend on where in the body the cancer has spread, or metastasized, to.
But according to Susan Halabi, PhD, lead author of the new study and professor of biostatistics at Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, NC, such studies have only included a small number of prostate cancer metastases, making it difficult to reach a firm conclusion.
For their study, Halabi and colleagues analyzed the data of nine phase 3 clinical trials involving 8,736 men with metastatic prostate cancer, all of whom had been treated with the chemotherapy drug docetaxel.
The team divided the patients into four groups based on where their prostate cancer had spread to: the lymph nodes only, the lung, the liver (without the lung) or the bone (with or without lymph nodes and no metastases to other organs).
Liver metastases linked to shortest survival
Almost 73% of the men had bone metastases, 8.6% of the men had liver metastases, 9.1% of the men had lung metastases and 6.4% had metastases to the lymph nodes only.
The team found the survival of the men varied greatly depending on what site their prostate cancer had spread to.
Men whose cancer had spread to the lymph nodes only had the longest median survival, at 32 months, while those whose cancer had spread to the liver had the shortest median survival, at 14 months.
Bone metastasis was linked to a median survival of just over 21 months, while men whose prostate cancer had spread to the lung had a median survival of 19 months.
Commenting on the findings, Halabi says:
"These results should help guide clinical decision-making for men with advanced prostate cancer. They also suggest that prognostic subgroups should be considered for investigational therapies that are tested in clinical trials."
She adds that further research is warranted to better understand how and why prostate cancer metastasizes to different organs.
Earlier this month, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that vitamin D levels may influence the aggressiveness of prostate cancer.