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About prostate cancer

Find out about who gets prostate cancer, where it starts and how common it is.

Prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate gland.

This short video is about prostate cancer.

The prostate

The prostate is a small gland at the base of the bladder. It is about the size of a walnut but gets bigger as men get older.

The prostate surrounds the first part of the tube (urethra) that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. The same tube also carries semen, the fluid containing sperm.

The prostate gland produces a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA). A blood test can measure the level of PSA.

Diagram showing prostate

Where it starts

Most prostate cancers start in the outer gland cells of the prostate and are known as acinar adenocarcinomas. Many of these cancers grow extremely slowly and are not likely to spread. But some can grow more quickly.

Because 9 out of 10 men (90%) have acinar prostate cancer, our treatment information is for this type of cancer.

Who gets it

You need a prostate gland to get prostate cancer. So it mostly affects men but trans people who were assigned male at birth and male assigned non-binary people can get prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is most common in older men. On average each year 35 out of 100 (35%) of new cases are in men aged 75 and over. 

It is more common in black Caribbean and black African men than in white men. It is less common in Asian men. A man’s risk of developing prostate cancer depends on many factors. These include:

  • age
  • genetics and family history
  • lifestyle factors
  • other medical conditions

How common it is

In 2015, around 47,200 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK.

In adults, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK. In men, it is the most common cancer in the UK.

The number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer has been increasing over the last 10 years. This might be because more men are having PSA tests and the population is getting older.

Last reviewed: 
05 Jul 2016
  • Cancer Incidence from Cancer Research UK
    Accessed December 2018

  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

  • Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    VT De Vita, S Hellman and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

Information and help

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