About Prostate Cancer


Prostate cancer is the most common nonskin cancer among men in the United States. Although the number of men with this disease is large, the number of men who are expected to die of the disease is considerably smaller, since the majority of those diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die of it.

The UCLA Prostate Research and Treatment Program brings together a multidisciplinary team to treat benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. More than 200 prostatectomies are performed for prostate cancer annually at UCLA, and potency-sparing surgery is performed in appropriate cases with good results.

Types of Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a gland that is part of the male reproductive system. It is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum, and is normally the size of a walnut. Although there are several types of cells in the prostate, most prostate cancer starts in the gland cells.

Prostate growths can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Benign growths include benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a common problem but that is not cancer. In BPH, the prostate grows larger and squeezes the urethra preventing the normal flow of urine. (In the United States, most men over the age of 50 have symptoms of BPH. For some men, the symptoms may be severe enough to need treatment.)

Benign Growths (Such as BPH)

  • Are rarely a threat to life
  • Can be removed and probably won't grow back
  • Don't invade the tissues around them
  • Don't spread to other parts of the body

Malignant Tumors

  • May be a threat to life
  • Often can be removed, but sometimes grow back
  • Can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs
  • Can spread to other parts of the body

Cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the prostate tumor. They enter blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into all the tissues of the body. The cancer cells can attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.

More About Prostate Cancer

The following is more detailed information about prostate cancer, including its physiology, common risks factors, preventive methods and tests, and treatment methods and their side effects.