Prostate cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the prostate. 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 one of the components of semen.
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin malignancy in men and is responsible for more deaths than any other cancer, except for lung cancer. However, microscopic evidence of prostate cancer is found at autopsy in many if not most men. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimated that about 218,890 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the United States during 2007. About 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only 1 man in 34 will die of it. A little over 1.8 million men in the United States are survivors of prostate cancer.
Treatment options and prognosis depend on the stage of the cancer, the Gleason score4, and the patient’s age and general health. With greater public awareness, early detection is on the rise and mortality rates are declining. Additionally, new advances in medical technology are enabling cancer patients to return to active and productive lives after their treatment.