Coronavirus and cancer

We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help. If you have symptoms of cancer contact your doctor.

Read our information about coronavirus and cancer

Decorative image

Types of prostate cancer

The type of prostate cancer tells about the type of cell the cancer started in. Knowing this helps your doctor decide which treatment you need. They use the information about your prostate cancer type along with:

  • how abnormal the cancer cells look under the microscope (the grade)
  • the size of the cancer and whether it has spread (the stage)

Another way doctors may describe your cancer is as localised, locally advanced or advanced. 

There are different types of prostate cancer. The most common type is called acinar adenocarcinoma.

Acinar adenocarcinoma

Adenocarcinomas are cancers that develop in the gland cells that line the prostate gland. They are the most common type of prostate cancer. Nearly everyone with prostate cancer has this type.  

Ductal adenocarcinoma

Ductal adenocarcinoma starts in the cells that line the ducts (tubes) of the prostate gland. It tends to grow and spread more quickly than acinar adenocarcinoma.

Transitional cell (or urothelial) cancer

Transitional cell cancer of the prostate starts in the cells that line the tube carrying urine to the outside of the body (the urethra). This type of cancer usually starts in the bladder and spreads into the prostate. But rarely it can start in the prostate and may spread into the bladder entrance and nearby tissues.

Diagram showing prostate

Squamous cell cancer

These cancers develop from flat cells that cover the prostate. They tend to grow and spread more quickly than adenocarcinoma of the prostate.

Small cell prostate cancer

Small cell prostate cancer is made up of small round cells. It’s a type of neuroendocrine cancer.

Other rare cancers

Other rare cancers can develop in the prostate, these include:

Last reviewed: 
24 Jan 2020
  • Cancer principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
    Wolters Kluwer Health, 2015

  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2014

  • Interpretation of prostate biopsy
    Ximing J Yang
    UpToDate, Last accessed January 2020 

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