The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland in the pelvis of men. It is located next to the bladder and can be examined by getting a digital rectal exam. Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate gland. It is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths for men in the U.S. About 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. This year, nearly 250,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Growths in the prostate can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
Benign growths (like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH):
Malignant growths (prostate cancer):
Prostate cancer cells can spread by breaking away from a prostate tumor. They can travel through blood vessels or lymph nodes to reach other parts of the body. After spreading, cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors, causing damage where they land.
When prostate cancer spreads from its original place to another part of the body, the new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the primary (original) tumor. For example, if prostate cancer spreads to the bones, the cancer cells in the bones are actually prostate cancer cells. The disease is metastatic prostate cancer, not bone cancer. For that reason, it's treated as prostate cancer in the bone
In its early stages, prostate cancer often has no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can be like those of an enlarged prostate or BPH. Prostate cancer can also cause symptoms unrelated to BPH. If you have urinary problems, talk with your healthcare provider about them.
Symptoms of prostate cancer can be:
No one knows why or how prostate cancer starts. Autopsy studies show 1 in 3 men over the age of 50 has some cancer cells in the prostate. Eight out of ten "autopsy cancers" found are small, with tumors that are not harmful.
Even though there is no known reason for prostate cancer, there are many risks associated with the disease.
Doing things that are "heart-healthy", will also keep your prostate healthy. Eating right, exercising, watching your weight and not smoking can be good for your health and help you avoid prostate cancer.
Some cancers grow so slowly that treatment may not be needed at all. Others grow fast and are life-threatening so treatment is usually necessary. Deciding what treatment you should get can be complex. Talk with your healthcare team about your options. Your treatment plan will depend on:
Treatment choices for prostate cancer include: