Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. Over 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. Over 250,000 men are currently living with the disease.
Normally the growth of all cells is carefully controlled in the body. As cells die, they are replaced in an orderly fashion. Cancer can develop when cells start to grow in an uncontrolled way. If this happens in the prostate gland, prostate cancer can develop.
Prostate cancer often grows slowly and has a low risk of spreading, so it may never cause you any symptoms or problems in your lifetime. In other words, it’s often not life-threatening. Because of this, slow-growing prostate cancer might not need to be treated. You might be able to have your cancer monitored with regular check-ups instead.
But some men will have cancer that is faster growing and has a higher risk of spreading. This needs treatment to stop it spreading outside the prostate.
Signs and symptoms
This information comes from our booklet 'Know your prostate: a guide to common prostate problems'.
You can order printed publications about the prostate gland and prostate cancer from our publications page.
Prostate cancer can grow slowly or very quickly. Most prostate cancer is slow-growing to start with and may never cause any symptoms or problems in a man's lifetime. However, some men will have cancer that is more aggressive or 'high risk.' This needs treatment to help prevent or delay it spreading outside the prostate gland.
If a man does have symptoms, such as problems urinating, they might be mild and happen over many years. For some men the first noticeable symptoms are from prostate cancer which has spread to their bones. If this happens, you may notice pain in your back, hips or pelvis that was not there before. These symptoms could be caused by other problems such as general aches and pains or arthritis, but it is still a good idea to get them checked out by your GP if you are worried.
Most men with early prostate cancer do not have any symptoms.