What is the prostate?

Only men have a prostate gland. The prostate is usually the size and shape of a walnut and grows bigger as you get older. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra – the tube men urinate and ejaculate through.

Its main job is to help make semen – the fluid that carries sperm.

The most common prostate problems are an enlarged prostate, prostatitis and prostate cancer.

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What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer can develop when cells in the prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way. Prostate cancer often grows slowly to start with and may never cause any problems. But some men have prostate cancer that is more likely to spread. This needs treatment to stop it spreading outside the prostate.

Signs and symptoms

Prostate cancer that’s contained inside the prostate (called localised prostate cancer or early prostate cancer) doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. But some men might have some urinary problems. These can be mild and happen over many years and may be a sign of a benign prostate problem, rather than prostate cancer.

Changes to look out for include

  • needing to urinate more often than usual, including at night – for example if you often need to go again two hours
  • difficulty starting to urinate
  • straining or taking a long time to finish urinating
  • a weak flow when you urinate
  • a feeling that you’re not emptying your bladder fully
  • needing to rush to the toilet – sometimes leaking before you get there
  • dribbling urine after you finish.

Less common symptoms include

  • pain when urinating
  • pain when ejaculating
  • blood in your urine or semen*
  • problems getting or keeping an erection – this isn’t a common symptom of a prostate problem and is more often linked to other health conditions such as diabetes or heart problems.

*Blood in your urine or semen can be caused by other health problems. Talk to your doctor if you see any blood in your urine or semen.

For some men the first symptoms of prostate cancer might be new pain in the back, hips or pelvis. This can be caused by cancer that’s spread to the bones (advanced prostate cancer). These symptoms are often caused by other problems such as general aches or arthritis. But it’s still a good idea to get them checked out by your GP.

Most men with early prostate cancer don't have any symptoms. If you're worried about your risk or are experiencing any symptoms, visit your GP or speak to our Specialist Nurses.

Are you at risk?

In the UK, about 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

Men aged 50 or over, men with a family history of prostate cancer and Black men are more at risk of getting prostate cancer.

Find out more about your risk.

Facts and figures

See and share our infographic on prostate cancer risk.

Below are some of the very basic facts and figures about prostate cancer.

Across the UK

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.
  • Over 44,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year – that's more than 120 men every day.
  • Every hour one man dies from prostate cancer – that's more than 10,500 men every year.
  • 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.
  • Over 330,000 men are living with and after prostate cancer.

In Scotland

  • More than 3,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Scotland.
  • More than 880 men die from prostate cancer every year in Scotland.
  • Every day two men die from prostate cancer in Scotland.

In England

  • More than 38,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in England.
  • More than 9,000 men die from prostate cancer every year in England.
  • Every hour one man dies from prostate cancer in England.

In Wales

  • More than 2,400 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Wales.
  • More than 500 men die every year from prostate cancer in Wales.

In Northern Ireland

  • More than 1,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Northern Ireland.
  • More than 250 men die every year from prostate cancer in Northern Ireland.

References

Updated: December 2015 | Due for Review: July 2017