Cancer Information

Prostate Cancer

The prostate gland is located in the pelvis, below the bladder, above the urethral sphincter and the penis, and in front of the rectum in men. Adenocarcinoma of the prostate is the clinical term for a cancerous tumor on the prostate gland. As prostate cancer grows, it may spread to the interior of the gland, to tissues near the prostate,  and later to distant parts of the body (e.g., bones, liver, lungs). Prostate cancer confined to the gland often is treated successfully.

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men in the United States. It was estimated that about 221,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2003 and about 29000 men died the disease. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, exceeded only by lung cancer. Prostate cancer occurs in 1 out of 6 men. Reports of diagnosed cases have risen rapidly in recent years and mortality rates are declining, due to increased screening.

African American men have the highest incidence of prostate cancer, and Asian and Native American men have the lowest incidence. Rates for Asian and African men increase sharply when they emigrate to the United States, suggesting environmental factors have a role  (e.g., high-fat diet, smoking). The risk for developing prostate cancer rises significantly with age, and 60% of newly diagnosed cases occur in men over the age of 70 years.

Risk Factors

  • A family history of prostate cancer

  • 55 years old and older

  • Diet high in saturated fat

  • Race (African American)

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Smoking

  • Exposure to heavy metals (e.g., cadmium)