Basic Information About Prostate Cancer

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts in the prostate, it is called prostate cancer. Except for skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men.

Many men with prostate cancer—especially those with tumors that have not spread beyond the prostate—die of other causes without ever having any symptoms from the cancer. Overall, about 97% of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive five years later.

Medical illustration of the prostate
When cancer starts in the prostate, it is called prostate cancer. The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system.
Photo of an African-American man
All men are at risk for prostate cancer. The most common risk factor is age. Some men are at increased risk for prostate cancer.
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Different men have different symptoms for prostate cancer. Some men do not have symptoms at all. See a list of possible symptoms.
Photo of a doctor talking to a patient
Cancer screening means looking for cancer before it causes symptoms. There is no standard test to screen for prostate cancer. Two tests that are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer are a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and a digital rectal examination (DRE).
Photo of a man using a laptop computer
If you are thinking about being screened, you and your doctor should consider your personal risk factors and how you value the potential benefits and harms of screening, diagnosis, and treatment.
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The goal of screening for prostate cancer is to find cancers that may be at high risk for spreading if not treated, and to find them early before they spread.
Photo of a pathologist examining a specimen under a microscope
A biopsy is the main tool for diagnosing prostate cancer.
Photo of a prostate cancer patient speaking to his radiologist
Different types of treatment are available for prostate cancer. You and your doctor will decide which treatment is right for you.
Page last reviewed: August 23, 2021