What Is It?
Prostate cancer results from the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the prostate gland. This gland produces part of the fluid in semen. It is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum, near the base of the penis.
Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in American men. Many other men have the disease, but have not been diagnosed. This is because prostate cancer has few symptoms early on.
Prostate cancer is common, but it is not always dangerous. This is because it usually grows very slowly. It affects older men; the average age at diagnosis is 70. And it's usually diagnosed before it causes any symptoms. Also, these men often have other illnesses which may be more important to treat than a cancer that doesn't cause symptoms.
When cells in the prostate become cancerous (malignant), they clump together, forming small "islands" of cancer in the prostate. In many cases, it takes years, even decades, for this localized cancer to spread beyond the prostate. And many of these cancers may never spread.
Researchers do not know the exact cause of prostate cancer. But they have identified several factors that raise a man's risk of the disease. These include:
Page 1 of 9 Next Page: Prostate Cancer Symptoms
From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.
You can find more great health information on the Harvard Health Publications website.