Many men who suffer with chronic prostatitis or bacterial prostatitis who are looking for treatment often pose the question, can prostatitis cause prostate cancer?
Prostatitis is a benign but painful condition that is typically accompanied by an inflamed and tender prostate caused by a bacterial infection or other factors. Although an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level is an indication of both prostatitis and prostate cancer, there is no evidence—so far–that prostatitis causes prostate cancer, yet there have been some hints.
Briefly, here’s what scientists have discovered thus far in their quest for identifying any possible link between prostatitis and prostate cancer. In a Mayo Clinic study published in 2004, the investigators studied cases of prostate cancer and prostatitis between 1980 and 1996. They reported that while “acute or chronic bacterial prostatitis may be associated with prostate cancer…our data do not provide compelling evidence to support this.”
A subsequent study, the California Men’s Health Study published in January 2010, evaluated an association between prostatitis, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, which have been theorized to lead to prostatitis), and prostate cancer among 68,675 men who participated in the Study. The incidence of STDs was 26.3%, and a total of 1,658 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed.
Generally, men who had a history of prostatitis had an increased risk (30%) of prostate cancer when compared with men without a history of prostatitis. The authors concluded the results of the study “suggest that prostatitis and STDs may be involved in prostate cancer susceptibility.” However, the study does not prove the question “does prostatitis causes prostate cancer”, as it is possible that men who experience symptoms of prostatitis are more likely to go to a doctor and subsequently get tested for prostate cancer than men without prostatitis who may have undetected prostate cancer.
Can prostatitis cause prostate cancer? It appears the jury is still out on this question but the evidence points to a strong link between the two.
Read more in our Prostatitis Health Center.
Roberts RO et al. Prostatitis as a risk factor for prostate cancer. Epidemiology 2004 Jan; 15(1): 93-99