Prostate cancer is a disease which only affects men. Cancer begins to grow in the prostate – a gland in the male reproductive system.
The word “prostate” comes from Medieval Latin prostate and Medieval French prostate. The ancient Greek word prostates means “one standing in front”, from proistanai meaning “set before”. The prostate is so called because of its position – it is at the base of the bladder.
The prostate gland makes fluid that forms part of semen. The prostate lies just below the bladder in front of the rectum. It surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine and semen through the penis and out of the body).
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States, after skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men. Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in white men. African-American men with prostate cancer are more likely to die from the disease than white men with prostate cancer.
Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). Prostate cancer often has no early symptoms. Advanced prostate cancer can cause men to urinate more often or have a weaker flow of urine, but these symptoms can also be caused by benign prostate conditions.
Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly. Most men with prostate cancer are older than 65 years and do not die from the disease. Finding and treating prostate cancer before symptoms occur may not improve health or help you live longer. Talk to your doctor about your risk of prostate cancer and whether you need screening tests.