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Prostate cancer


What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland grow and divide in an abnormal way. Prostate cancer can be early (localised) where cancer cells have grown but not spread, locally advanced where cancers has spread to parts of the body close to the prostate or metastatic where the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body.

You can access further information about prostate cancer, including risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment from Cancer Council Victoria. You can also call our trusted cancer nurses on 13 11 20 for support and to learn about our range of services for people affected by cancer.

The Victorian Cancer Registry also operates an interactive web portal, Data Explorer, which provides more trends and statistics than published here.

How common is prostate cancer?

In 2020, 5379 Victorian males were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Currently, prostate cancer is diagnosed at a rate of 92.7 per 100,000 males. The median age at diagnosis of prostate cancer is 69 years (Figure 1 & 2). Accounting for 15.5% of all cancers diagnosed and 7.2% of all cancer-related deaths in 2020, prostate cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the 2nd most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Victorian males in 2020.


Figure 1: Distribution of prostate cancer incidence in 2020, by age groups

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Figure 2: Distribution of prostate cancer incidence in 2020, compared to the distribution of the Victorian population in 2020, by 5-year age brackets

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)

Prostate cancer morphology

Figure 4 provides a summary of the different types of cells (morphology) which have caused prostate cancer among all cases. Most prostate cancer tumours, 93.8%, present as Acinar carcinoma tumours.


Figure 4: Distribution of prostate cancer morphologies between 2011-2020

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Geographical variance in prostate cancer by local government area

Figure 5 demonstrates variation in age-standardised incidence rates of prostate cancer, by local government areas. Darker shading indicates areas with higher rates of prostate cancer.


Figure 5: Variation in the incidence of prostate cancer for the period 2016-2020, by location of residence in Victoria

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Prostate cancer in people born overseas

Figure 5 shows the age standardised incidence rates of invasive prostate cancer in Australian-born Victorian males compared to other major migrant groups, over the five-year period 2016 to 2020. The highest age standardised incidence rate of 102.1 was observed in those born in the Australia and New Zealand region and lowest rate of 40.1 was observed in people born in the North-East Asia region.


Figure 5: Age standardised incidence rates and 95% confidence intervals for prostate cancer in Victorians born in Australia compared to Victorians born in other countries for the period 2016-2020


Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)



Prostate cancer distribution by stage at diagnosis

Figure 6 shows the distribution of prostate cancer using the International Society of Urological Pathology (ISUP) Grade Group in 2020. ISUP grade groups categorise prostate cancer at diagnosis according to five grades from least aggressive (Grade 1) to most aggressive (Grade 5). These groups help clinicians decide how to manage the cancer. * Grade group 1 (Gleason 6 or less) indicates that the cancer is low risk; the cancer is slow growing and not aggressive. * Grade group 2-3 (Gleason score 7) indicates that the cancer is intermediate risk; the cancer is likely to grow faster and be mildly to moderately aggressive. * Grade group 4-5 (Gleason score 8-10) indicates that the cancer is high risk; the cancer is likely to grow quickly and be more aggressive.
Among males, ISUP 1 accounted for the largest proportion (29.1%) of new diagnoses and ISUP 4 for the lowest proportion (5.5%) of new prostate cancer diagnoses.


Figure 6: Prostate cancer distribution by stage at diagnosis in 2020

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Prostate cancer five-year relative survival

Figure 7 shows the change in 5-year survival for prostate cancer, and the 5-year survival trend for all cancers over the same time period. It demonstrates that five-year relative survival has increased for invasive prostate cancer between 1985-1989 and 2015-2019 from 55% to 94%.

Figure 7: Trend in five year relative survival following diagnosis of prostate cancer in five year brackets, from the period 1985-1989 to 2015-2019

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)

For further information relating to stage at diagnosis for prostate cancer, please refer to:
https://www.cancervic.org.au/cancer-information/types-of-cancer/prostate_cancer/diagnosing_prostate_cancer.html

This webpage was last updated in May 2022