Prostate Cancer

Overview

Prostate cancer is a cancer that develops from the cells lining the duct structure of the prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is a part of a man's reproductive system. The prostate is located in front of the rectum and under the bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine flows, and makes part of the seminal fluid. During ejaculation, the seminal fluid helps carry sperm out of the man’s body as part of semen. As men age, the prostate tends to increase in size. If the prostate grows too large, it squeezes the urethra which may narrow and decrease urine flow.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, excluding skin cancer. All men are at risk for prostate cancer. Family history and age are both factors that increase the risk.

Medical experts do not know what causes prostate cancer or how to prevent it. However, research has shown that men with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop prostate cancer.

Risk Factors

Research has shown that men with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop prostate cancer.

  • Age - Age is the main risk factor for prostate cancer. The chance of getting prostate cancer increases as you get older. In the United States, most men with prostate cancer are over 65. This disease is rare in men under 45.
  • Family History - The risk is higher if a father or brother has had prostate cancer.
  • Race - Prostate cancer is more common among black men than white or Hispanic and Latino men. African-American men are more than twice as likely to have prostate cancer, and it is nearly twice as likely to be fatal when compared to Caucasian men. It is less common among Asian and Pacific Islanders and American Indian and Alaskan Native men.

Having a risk factor does not mean that a man will develop prostate cancer. Most men who have risk factors will never develop prostate cancer. Other possible risk factors are under study. Researchers are also studying how it may be prevented.

If you are 50 years of age or older, please talk to your doctor about prostate cancer screening and treatment options. Men who are at a higher risk for prostate cancer are encouraged to begin getting tested at age 45.

For more information about screening including a list free screenings near you, visit Prostate Screenings.


Page last updated: October 5, 2017