Prostate cancer: key points

  • In Scotland, prostate cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in 2015. It was the second most common cause of death from cancer in men in 2015, after lung cancer.
  • In 2015, 3,091 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in Scotland.
  • Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer accounts for 20.3% of all cancers diagnosed in men.
  • Based on current rates of disease, an estimated 1 in 10 men develop prostate cancer during their lifetime.
  • Over the last ten years, there has been little change in the age-standardised incidence rate of prostate cancer.
  • While part of the increasing incidence of prostate cancer may reflect a genuine increase in risk, much of it seems likely to reflect increased detection of latent disease through increasing use of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.
  • Variations in use of PSA testing make it difficult to interpret geographical variations in incidence and survival.
  • The causes of prostate cancer are largely unestablished, but the main risk factors seem to be increasing age, family history, African descent, and various aspects of diet. 
  • Survival from prostate cancer is moderately favourable with a 5-year relative survival of 87.7% in patients diagnosed between 2007 and 2011.
  • The incidence of prostate cancer is higher among men from areas of less socioeconomic deprivation, but it is not clear whether this is due to genuine differences in risk or simply differences in detection through use of the PSA test.  The probability of surviving prostate cancer is lower among people living in areas of socioeconomic deprivation - again, this might be explained by a lower proportion of PSA-detected latent disease among this patient group.
  • A previous population-based audit of prostate cancer in Scotland identified inconsistencies in disease management and highlighted the need for a multidisciplinary approach, which has now become standard practice.


Key Statistics:

Number of cases diagnosed in 2015 3,091
Prevalence at 31 Dec 2015 (cases / 100,000 male pop)1 1014.7
 Number of deaths in 2015  985
 % men surviving 5 years after diagnosis2  87.7%
Lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer (from birth)   10.2%
Lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer (from age 54)   10.1%

1) Number of prostate cancer survivors at 31 Dec 2015 who had been diagnosed in the previous 20 years per 100,000 male population.
2) Five year relative survival for patients diagnosed during the period 2007 -2011 (not standardised).

Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section was completed in September 2017.  
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end June 2018.