Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer that starts in the cells of the prostate gland, a part of the male reproductive system. There are usually no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. A biopsy is the only way to formally diagnose prostate cancer, and treatment options range from active surveillance (careful monitoring) to surgery and radiation.

Key Terms

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.

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. Carter HB, Albertsen PC, Barry MJ, et al. Early detection of prostate cancer: AUA guideline. J Urol. 2013;190(2):419-426. doi:10.1016/j.juro.2013.04.119

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

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

  4. 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

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

  6. 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

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