A caregiver providing comfort to a cancer patient

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer of the prostate gland. Prostate cancer actually refers to a wide spectrum of diseases, with some tumors being aggressive and others that act more benign. 

Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men.

Urination issues are the most common symptoms of the disease, though most cases are first detected by screening tests, such as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. A formal diagnosis can only be made with tests such as an ultrasound-guided or MRI-targeted biopsy. Treatment options range from active surveillance (careful monitoring) to surgery and radiation and depend on your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you get prostate cancer?

    What causes prostate cancer is uncertain, but there are known risk factors, such as age or inherited genetic mutations. Roughly 80% of men are diagnosed after the age of 65. It develops more frequently in African Americans and Caribbean men of African ancestry. Having high levels of androgens (hormones) or being exposed to Agent Orange or occupational pesticides may also increase risk.

  • How do you prevent prostate cancer?

    It’s unknown what may help prevent prostate cancer, but lifestyle factors that may be helpful include eating a diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat and dairy and exercising regularly. Discuss screenings with a physician if you are over age 45, or after age 40 if you have a family history of prostate cancer or gene mutations linked to prostate cancer.

  • Is prostate cancer curable?

    When prostate cancer is caught early, treatments can cure the disease. Also, many prostate cancers are considered non-aggressive and may never progress or cause symptoms. In these cases, careful monitoring of the tumor (active surveillance) for signs of progression may be recommended before considering surgery, radiation, and other therapies.

  • Is prostate cancer hereditary?

    About 5% to 10% of prostate cancers are hereditary, including inherited gene mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, that are linked to other cancers. The chance that a prostate cancer is hereditary is increased if first-degree relatives have had prostate cancer.

Key Terms

Explore Prostate Cancer

Man talking with his doctor
10 Myths of Prostate Cancer
A man sits in a doctor’s office.
Prostate Cancer: Causes and Risk Factors
A father and his son talking in the kitchen
Talking to Your Son About Men’s Health Issues
BPH
What Are Some Common Prostate Problems?
BRCA1 molecular model
The Prostate Cancer-Breast Cancer Link
Senior man talking with his doctor
Relationship Between PSA and Your Cholesterol Levels
Doctor showing senior patient brochure in office
Starting at the Beginning With Prostate Cancer
Emergency staff rushing patient on gurney in hospital
Common Prostate Cancer Emergencies
Caucasian man using digital tablet in livingroom
The Seminal Vesicle and Its Role in Prostate Cancer
Doctor reviewing medical chart with senior man
PSA Nadir Level in Prostate Cancer
Doctor reviewing medical chart with senior man
Common Symptoms of Prostatitis
Thoughtful man listening music in subway train
What Happens When Prostate Cancer Is Left Untreated
Doctor explaining urological problems
Role of the Prostate Bed in Prostate Cancer Treatment
doctor discussing medical chart with male patient
Enlarged Prostate: Overview and More
Doctor talking to patient
What Is BPH, or Enlargement of the Prostate?
African man talking to doctor
The Difference Between Prostate Cancer and BPH
Doctor listening to man's breathing in doctor’s office
The Signs of Prostate Cancer
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer's Battle with Prostate Cancer
Doctor discussing prostate ultrasound scan with a patient
How Prostate Cancer Is Diagnosed
A patient prepares for a CT scan.
Axumin PET Scans: A Breakthrough for Prostate Cancer
Man with male patient
Fundamentals Required for Prostate Cancer Staging
Transrectal Ultrasound
What to Expect From a Transrectal Ultrasound
Drawing blood
How Does a PSA Test Diagnose Prostate Cancer?
Businessman using digital tablet leaning on desk
The 5 Stages of Prostate Cancer
Why Early Prostate Cancer Is Symptom-Free
Korean man in consultation with doctor
D'Amico Classification System for Prostate Cancer
A doctor holding a vile of blood
How to Understand PSA Levels
Mature businessman using phone in home office looking through window
An Overview of Stage 3 Prostate Cancer
Doctor giving consultation to patient using digital tablet
Stage 4 Prostate Cancer Treatments and Prognosis
Male patient and doctor in discussion in exam room
How to Tell If Prostate Cancer Has Metastasized
Hand removing tube in laboratory
Prostate Cancer Grading and Gleason Scores
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis (DRE)
Digital Rectal Exam: Uses, Side Effects, Procedure, Results
Black woman doctor talking to patient in hospital
Getting a Prostate Ultrasound for Prostate Cancer
Tumor on a prostate
The Shortcomings of PSA Density
Man talking to doctor
Overview of the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test
Doctor talking to patient in hospital room
Understanding Your PSA Results
Doctor explaining anatomical model to patient in hospital
Prostate Biopsy: Uses, Side Effects, Procedure, Results
close-up of a man pinching the bridge of his nose
Prostate Cancer Recurrence—How to Know and What to Do
Doctor checking senior mans back in examination room
Role of Alkaline Phosphatase in Prostate Cancer
man and woman dancing
Prostate Surgery: Long-Term Care
doctor patient discussion
Prostate Surgery: How to Prepare
doctor holding a model of the prostate gland
The Purpose of Prostate Surgery
Turmeric
How Could Turmeric Prevent or Treat Prostate Cancer?
Man talking with his doctor about using Erleada for prostate cancer
The Uses, Side Effects, and Interactions of Erleada
Treatment of prostatic cancer by high intensity focus ultrasound
How Prostate Cancer Is Treated
Doctor showing senior patient brochure in office
Immune Therapy for Prostate Cancer
man in hospital with his wife
Relapsed Prostate Cancer After Surgery
Proton Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer
Senior man talking with a doctor
Using Taxotere to Treat Prostate Cancer
Liver cancer
SIR-Spheres to Treat Liver Metastases Prostate Cancer
Genetic testing
Genetic Testing and Prostate Cancer Treatment
Anterior view showing normal versus enlarged prostate gland
Rezum System for Treating Enlarged Prostate
Doctor handshaking with senior man in examination room
Prostate Cancer Treatment and Life Expectancy
Patient preparing for radiation therapy
Radiation Therapy Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Doctor talking to patient in office
What Types of Doctors Treat Prostate Cancer?
white pills coming out of medicine bottle
Using Zytiga After Lupron to Control Prostate Cancer
Radiologist consoling a senior patient at MRI scan.
PSA Doubling Time and Prostate Cancer Relapse in Men
a doctor discussing medication with a male senior patient
Avodart & Proscar for Treating Prostate Cancer
Doctor comforting patient who has crooked erections after prostate surgery
Will You Get Crooked Erections After Prostate Surgery?
Doctors in surgery
Overview of Prostate Surgery
Page Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Types of Lymphoma. Updated 2020.

  2. American Cancer Society. Can prostate cancer be found early? Updated August 1, 2019.

  3. American Cancer Society. Prostate Cancer Risk Factors. Updated June 9, 2020.

  4. Lewis-mikhael AM, Bueno-cavanillas A, Ofir giron T, Olmedo-requena R, Delgado-rodríguez M, Jiménez-moleón JJ. Occupational exposure to pesticides and prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Occup Environ Med. 2016;73(2):134-44. doi:10.1136/oemed-2014-102692

  5. American Cancer Society. Initial treatment of prostate cancer, by stage.

  6. Mahal BA, Butler S, Franco I, et al. Use of Active Surveillance or Watchful Waiting for Low-Risk Prostate Cancer and Management Trends Across Risk Groups in the United States, 2010-2015. JAMA. 2019;321(7):704-706. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.19941

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Is Prostate Cancer? Updated August 18, 2020.

  8. American Cancer Society. What tests can detect prostate cancer early? Updated August 1, 2019.