INTRODUCTION: In order to help inform the discussion about the risks versus benefits of prostate cancer screening among older men, we determined whether advanced age is associated with a higher probability of harboring high-grade or high-risk disease.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database was used to identify 383,039 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2004-2011. The percentage of patients diagnosed with low-, intermediate-, or high-risk disease or a Gleason score of 6, 7, or 8 to 10 was calculated by age range. As a secondary analysis, we examined whether this relationship was different in 2010-2011 versus 2007-2008 (before and after the 2009 publication of screening trials).
RESULTS: The probability of Gleason score 8 to 10 or high-risk disease increased significantly with increasing age. The percentage of Gleason score 8 to 10 disease among men ages 50 to 54, 70 to 74, and 80 to 84 years was 8.9%, 16.2%, and 28.5%, respectively, and the percentage of high-risk disease was 14.3%, 22.4%, and 38.7% (P < .001). There were similar relationships among men with stage T1c disease. In addition, older men experienced a significant increase in the relative probability of high-risk or high-grade disease from 2007-2008 to 2010-2011.
CONCLUSION: In this large US-based cohort, older men had a much higher probability of high-grade or high-risk prostate cancer. Physicians and patients should take into account the higher risk of more aggressive or advanced disease in older men when discussing the risks and benefits of prostate-specific antigen screening with healthy older men with a substantial life expectancy.