Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the prostate. The prostate is a gland that surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the end of the penis in men. Women do not have a prostate gland.

The Male Urogenital System

© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

The prostate produces seminal fluid, which is needed to keep sperm healthy. The prostate releases the seminal fluid into the urethra where it combines with sperm to make semen. Normally, the cells of the prostate divide in a regulated manner. However, if cells begin dividing in an unregulated manner, a mass of tissue forms. This mass is called a tumor. A tumor can be benign or malignant.

A benign tumor is not cancerous. It will not spread to other parts of the body. In many older men, the prostate enlarges in this benign manner, called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) .

Cancer cells divide and damage tissue around them. They can enter the bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body. This can be life threatening. Prostate cancer produces local symptoms by producing pressure on the bladder, urethra, and surrounding tissues. It also has a tendency to spread beyond the prostate gland to the bones.

Prostate Cancer

© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 186,320 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008. An estimated 28,660 men will die of this condition.

With proper screening, prostate cancer can be detected early. And a variety of treatment options is available.

What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
What are the treatments for prostate cancer?
Are there screening tests for prostate cancer?
How can I reduce my risk of prostate cancer?
What questions should I ask my doctor?
What is it like to live with prostate cancer?
Where can I get more information about prostate cancer?