What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, excluding skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Prostate Cancer can only occur in men because the prostate is a gland only found in men. The prostate is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is normally about the size of a walnut. The tube that carries urine (the urethra) runs through the prostate. The prostate contains cells that make some of the fluid (semen) that protects and nourishes the sperm.

The prostate begins to develop before birth and keeps on growing until a man reaches adulthood. Male hormones (called androgens) cause this growth. If male hormone levels are low, the prostate gland will not grow to full size. In older men, though, the part of the prostate around the urethra may keep on growing. This causes BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) which can lead to problems passing urine. BPH is a problem that must be treated, but it is not cancer.

There are several types of cells in the prostate, but nearly all prostate cancers start in the gland cells. This kind of cancer is known as adenocarcinoma. The remainder of the information here refers only to prostate adenocarcinoma.

Most of the time, prostate cancer grows slowly. Autopsy studies show that many older men (and even younger men) who died of other diseases also had prostate cancer that never caused a problem during their lives. These studies showed that as many as 7 to 9 out of 10 men had prostate cancer by age 80. But neither they nor their doctors even knew they had it.

Source: American Cancer Society, © 2010. Last Medical Review: 08/21/2009, Last Revised: 07/01/2010.

Who's At Risk for Prostate Cancer?

All men are at risk for prostate cancer. The risk increases with age, and family history also increases the risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. The risk is higher in African-American men, among who one in five will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Learn More >> Prostate cancer risk factors.

We're Here to Help

For men who are concerned about troubling urinary symptoms or who have been diagnosed with benign or cancerous prostate conditions, the Prostate Cancer Center at Saint Joseph's can provide them with a coordinated, multi-disciplinary approach of how to evaluate and/or treat these issues.

The Physicians at the Prostate Cancer Center at Saint Joseph's, a group of urologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists or other physicians who are involved in the research and practice of advanced and innovative prostate cancer treatment, seek to provide patients with such cooperative care.

Our Patient Navigator, Renee Sevy-Hasterok, coordinates access to all programs and services offered by the Prostate Cancer Center and its members. Ask a question through our confidential "Ask Our Patient Navigator" form, call (678) 843-5665 or send an e-mail to renee.sevy@emoryhealthcare.org Renee will get back to you as soon as possible.

Information on this page is provided collaboratively by the team at the Prostate Cancer Center at Saint Joseph's and has been medically reviewed by Peter J. Rossi, MD, 2012. Claims regarding treatment are based on years of clinical experience and industry reported data. The PCC follows American Urological Association and National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines for the treatment of prostate cancer.