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.

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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) doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. But some men may have some urinary problems. These may be mild and happen over many years.

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. 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.

For more information read our booklet, Know your prostate: a guide to common prostate problems.

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 42,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year – that's more than 110 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 300,000 men are living with and after prostate cancer

In Scotland

  • More than 2,900 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 36,000 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 2,600 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 200 men die every year from prostate cancer in Northern Ireland.

Last updated: February 2015