What is Prostate Cancer ?

When talking about what is prostate cancer, it is important to know the details of what the prostate is. The prostate is part of a man's reproductive system. It's an organ located in front of the rectum and under the bladder. The prostate surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine flows.

A healthy prostate is about the size of a walnut. If the prostate grows too large, it squeezes the urethra. This may slow or stop the flow of urine from the bladder to the penis.

The prostate is a gland. It makes part of the seminal fluid. During ejaculation, the seminal fluid helps carry sperm out of the man's body as part of semen.

Male hormones (androgens) make the prostate grow. The testicles are the main source of male hormones, including testosterone. The adrenal gland also makes testosterone, but in small amounts.

Cancer begins in cells, the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up the organs of the body.

Normal cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When normal cells grow old or get damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.

Sometimes, this process goes wrong. New cells form when the body doesn't need them, and old or damaged cells don't die as they should. The buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor.

Prostate growths can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

Benign growths are not as harmful as malignant growths:

Benign growths (such as BPH):

-are rarely a threat to life

-can be removed and probably won't grow back

-don't invade the tissues around them

-don't spread to other parts of the body

Malignant tumors:

-may be a threat to life

-often can be removed, but sometimes grow back

-can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs

-can spread to other parts of the body

Cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the prostate tumor. They enter blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into all the tissues of the body. The cancer cells can attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues. The spread of cancer is called metastasis. See the Staging section for information about prostate cancer that has spread.

Causes of Prostate Cancer

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Prostate Testing and Diagnosis

Prostate Surgery

Prosate Cancer Treatment Options

Prostate Cancer Awareness Store