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, to seminal vesicles (sac-like
structures attached to the prostate), and to distant parts of the body (e.g.,
bones, liver, lungs). Prostate cancer confined to the gland often is treated
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. It is made
up of glandular tissue and muscle fibers that surround a portion of the urethra.
The gland is covered by a membrane (prostate capsule) that produces
Incidence and Prevalence
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), prostate cancer is the most
common type of cancer in men in the United States. The ACS estimates that about
220,900 new cases will be diagnosed in 2003 and about 28,900 men will die of 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, which may be
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 an
environmental connection (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.
A family history of prostate cancer increases the risk. Other possible
risk factors include the following:
- 55 years old and older
- Diet high in saturated fat
- Exposure to heavy metals (e.g., cadmium)
- Race (African American)
- Sedentary lifestyle
Signs and Symptoms
Early prostate cancer usually is discovered during a routine
digital rectal examination (DRE).
Symptoms are often similar to those of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Men
observing the following signs and/or symptoms should see their physician for a
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Inability to urinate
- Nagging pain or stiffness in the back, hips, upper thighs, or pelvis
- Painful ejaculation
- Pain or burning during urination (dysuria)
- Weak or interrupted urinary flow