Prostate cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the prostrate. The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is about the size of a walnut and surrounds the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder). The prostate gland produces fluid that is a component of the semen.

  • About 16 percent of men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
  • Prostate cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed cancers, affecting one in six U.S. men, according to the American Cancer Society and Prostate Cancer Foundation.
  • With early detection as well as aggressive monitoring and treatment, prostate cancer survival rates are among the highest of all forms of cancer.

Causes of Prostate Cancer

While the causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown, it is clear the chance of developing prostate cancer increases in men over 50. Close relatives of men who have had prostate cancer are also more likely to be affected. Ethnic origin appears to play a part: men of African heritage are at highest risk, and men of Far Eastern descent have the lowest risk of developing prostate cancer. It is possible to reduce the risk by following a low-fat diet and staying in shape.

Treatment Options

The most common patient scenario is the one whose prostate cancer is localized, meaning the cancer has not spread. According to the American Urological Association, of the 234,460 men in the United States diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, 91 percent have localized disease.

For localized prostate cancer, there are five treatment options:

  • Observation.
  • Hormonal therapy (non curative).
  • Removal of cancerous prostate (radical prostatectomy).
  • Radiation of the cancerous prostate (either external radiation or radioactive seed implants).
  • Freezing of the cancerous prostate (cryosurgery).

Typically, a prostatectomy – surgical removal of the prostate and surrounding cancerous tissues – has been recognized as the gold standard of treatment for localized prostate cancer. Radical prostatectomy is a complex and delicate procedure, in part, because of the location of the prostate gland deep inside the pelvis.