About Prostate Cancer

About the Prostate

The prostate is a small gland in men located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The main function of the prostate is to make seminal fluid, which is part of semen. In younger men, the prostate is about the size of a walnut. As men get older, the prostate gets bigger.

About Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer starts when healthy cells in the prostate change and grow out of control, forming a tumor. It is actually clusters of cancerous cells that form multiple tumors within the prostate.
Prostate cancer often grows very slowly, so some men might never need treatment. But other prostate cancers spread fast and are aggressive.

Even if prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body, with the right treatment, men can live for many years with a good quality of life.

Prostate Cancer Statistics

About 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, the second most common cancer in men. But most men will die from something else.

Other Key Prostate Cancer Facts


  • 91 percent of prostate cancers are found when the cancer is only in the prostate and nearby organs
  • About 60 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are 65 or older
  • The average age at diagnosis is about 66
  • Prostate cancer is rare before age 40

Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting prostate cancer. You can’t change many risk factors, like age.

Common Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer


After age 50, the risk for prostate cancer increases.


Prostate cancer is:

  • More common in African-American men than in men of other races.
  • Less common in in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic white men.

Gene changes

Certain genetic changes are linked to prostate cancer risk:

  • Inherited mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
  • Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC).

It’s likely that only a small percentage of prostate cancers are caused by genetic changes.

Family history

Some prostate cancers occur in men with a family history of the disease. If your father or brother has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk of developing prostate cancer more than doubles.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Early prostate cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms. When prostate cancer is advanced, symptoms could include:

  • Problems urinating, including:
    • Reduced urinary stream
    • Need to urinate more often, especially at night
    • Inability to urinate
    • Blood in the urine or semen
    • Trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)
    • Pain in the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones
    • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord.

Most of these symptoms can be caused by other less serious problems.

Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer

Most prostate cancers are found through screening with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or a digital rectal exam. Other tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis and stage the cancer.

Other Tests for Prostate Cancer

Other tests for prostate cancer include:

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS). Ultrasound uses sound waves to create pictures of the body. A doctor inserts a probe into the rectum that takes a picture of the prostate.
  • Biopsy. In a biopsy, doctors remove a small amount of tissue for examination under a microscope. A biopsy is the only way to confirm the prostate cancer.
  • A 3D prostate biopsy is the most accurate way to diagnose prostate cancer. A traditional core needle biopsy takes 12 tissue samples from the prostate. In a 3D prostate biopsy, the doctor takes 40 to 100 tissue samples to create a 3D map of the entire prostate. The 3D map shows the location, size, and number of tumors. A biopsy can also be done using TRUS or MRI.
  • MRI scan
  • Biomarker tests. A biomarker is a substance that is found in the blood, urine, or tissues removed during a biopsy. Biomarker tests can help detect prostate cancer at its earliest stages. They also give doctors information about whether the prostate cancer is likely to grow and should be treated.

Treatment for Prostate Cancer

There are many treatments for prostate cancer. What’s best for you depends on:

  • The stage of your cancer (how much cancer is in the body)
  • Your age, overall health, and personal preferences.

Choosing the Best Treatment(s)

An accurate diagnosis is the first step in sorting through your options and choosing the best treatment for you.

Treatments for prostate cancer include:

  • Active surveillance (also called watchful waiting)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery
  • Targeted focal cryotherapy (also called cryosurgery)
  • Hormone therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Vaccine treatment
  • Bone-directed treatment