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 (pee) 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?

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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 after 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 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year – that's 130 men every day.
  • Every hour one man dies from prostate cancer – that's more than 10,800 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 850 men die from prostate cancer every year in Scotland.
  • Every day two men die from prostate cancer in Scotland.

In England

  • Almost 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in England.
  • More than 9,500 men die from prostate cancer every year in England.
  • Every hour one man dies from prostate cancer in England.

In Wales

  • More than 2,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Wales.
  • More than 600 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: April 2016 | Due for Review: July 2017

  • List of references  

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    • Cancer Research UK. Cancer incidence for common cancers: Ten most common cancers in males (2011) [Internet]. 2014. Available from: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/incidence/common-cancers-compared#heading-One
    • Cancer Research UK. Prostate cancer incidence statistics: By country in the UK (2013) [Internet]. 2015. Available from: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/prostate-cancer/incidence#heading-Zero
    • Cancer Research UK. Prostate cancer incidence statistics: Lifetime risk (2010) [Internet]. 2012. Available from: www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/prostate-cancer/incidence#heading-Four
    • Colin SM, Metcalfe C, Donovan J, et al. Associations of lower urinary tract symptoms with prostate-specific antigen levels, and screen detected localized and advanced prostate cancer: a case-control study nested within the UK based population ProtecT (Prostate testing for cancer and Treatment) study. BJU Int 2008;102(10):1400-06.
    • Crawford E D. Understanding the Epidemiology, Natural History and Key Pathways Involved in Prostate Cancer. 2009 Urology; 73:5A
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    • Macmillan Cancer Support. The rich picture on people with cancer [Internet]. 2015. Available from: www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/AboutUs/Research/Richpictures/update/RP-People-with-cancer.pdf
    • NICE. Guideline for management of lower urinary tract symptoms in men. NICE Clinical guideline 97. May 2010.
    • Northern Ireland Cancer Registry. Cancer Incidence Trends 1993-2013 with projections to 2035 [Internet]. [cited 2015 Jul 14]. Available from: www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/FileStore/PDF/NIrelandReports/Filetoupload,531911,en.pdf#page=159
    • Northern Ireland Cancer Registry. Number of cancer deaths and mortality rates by year of death. 1993-2013. Prostate (C61) [Internet]. 2014. Available from: www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/FileStore/ExcelDocuments/Mortality/Filetoupload,529518,en.xls
    • Office for National Statistics. Cancer Statistics Registrations, England (1995-2014) [Internet]. 2016. Available from: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html
    • Office for National Statistics. Death Registrations Summary Tables, England and Wales (2011-2014) (data on request) [Internet]. Office for National Statistics. 2014. Available from: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/death-reg-sum-tables/2013/index.html
    • Popiolek M, Rider JR, Andren O, et al. Natural history of early, localized prostate cancer: A final report from three decades of follow-up. Eur Urol 2013;63(3):42835.
    • Public Health Wales NHS Trust. Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit - Prostate cancer incidence, survival and mortality 2001-2014 [Internet]. Tableau Public. 2016. Available from: https://public.tableau.com/s/profile/welsh.cancer.intelligence.and.surveillance.unit
    • Speakman M, Kirby R, Doyle S, Loannau C. Burden of male lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) suggestive of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – focus on the UK. BJU Int. 2014; Mar 24. doi: 10.1111/bju.12745