Prostate Cancer: What You Need to Know

Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. It is one of the most common types of cancer in men. It usually grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm in the initial phase. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal intervention, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.

Prostate cancer that’s detected early and when it’s still confined to the prostate gland has a better chance of successful treatment.

Causes of Prostate Cancer 

It’s not clear what causes prostate cancer however doctors know that prostate cancer begins when some cells in your prostate become abnormal. Mutations in the abnormal cells’ DNA cause the cells to grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells do. The abnormal cells continue living, when other cells would die. The accumulating abnormal cells form a tumor that can grow to invade nearby tissue. Some abnormal cells can also break off and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

Prostate cancer, 3D illustration showing normal prostate gland and presence of tumor inside prostate gland which compresses urethra

In general, doctors recommend that men with an average risk of prostate cancer make choices that benefit their overall health if they’re interested in prostate cancer prevention. Factors that can increase your risk of prostate cancer include:


Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you age.




For reasons not yet determined, black men carry a greater risk of prostate cancer than do men of other races. In black men, prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced.




Prostate cancer is most common in North America, North-western Europe, Australia, and on Caribbean islands. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America. The reasons for this are not clear but other factors such as lifestyle differences (diet, etc.) are likely to be important as well.


Family history

Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor. (Still, most prostate cancers occur in men without a family history of it.


Sexually transmitted infections

Research has shown that sexually transmitted infections can lead to inflammation of the prostate.



Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be more likely to have advanced disease that’s more difficult to treat.