Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH
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 outside the body from the bladder. Women do not have a prostate gland.
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. When 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 way, called
benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Malignant cells are cancerous. Cancer cells divide rapidly, and invade and damage nearby tissue. Eventually, 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 is one of the most common types of cancer in men. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 241,740 American men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012. An estimated 28,170 men died from this condition in 2012.
Prostate cancer—for patients. National Cancer Institute
website. Available at:
Accessed September 29, 2015.
Prostate cancer screening EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 21, 2015. Accessed September 29, 2015.
4/15/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance.
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Kohler BA, Ward E, McCarthy BJ, et al. Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975-2007, featuring tumors of the brain and other nervous system.
J Natl Cancer Inst.
Last reviewed September 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
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