INTRODUCTION: Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer in the United States and the third leading cause of cancer deaths. International trends in the incidence, mortality and prevalence of prostate cancer are assessed.
METHODS: Databases from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program of the National Cancer Institute and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the literature on autopsy studies on prostate cancer were reviewed and summarized in the article.
RESULTS: Prostate cancer remains an important public health concern in Western countries and an emerging malignancy in developing nations. Prostate cancer incidence is dependent on efforts to detect the disease. Autopsy studies provide accurate and useful information regarding comparative prevalence rates of the disease among regions of interest.
CONCLUSIONS: Improved cancer registration is needed in developing nations. The prevalence of prostate cancer must be established to predict the expected incidence of the disease and in order to plan rational detection and treatment strategies. Clinically significant disease should be distinguished from insignificant disease which may pose little or no biological danger to the patient.