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.
Watch our animation to find out more about 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 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.
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 46,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year – that's 128 men every day.
Every hour one man dies from prostate cancer – that's more than 11,000 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.
More than 3,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Scotland.
More than 900 men die from prostate cancer every year in Scotland.
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.
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 200 men die every year from prostate cancer in Northern Ireland.
Updated: April 2016 | Due for Review: July 2017
List of references
Burford DC, Kirby M, Austoker J. Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme information for primary care; PSA testing in asymptomatic men. Evidence document January 2010
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
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
ISD Scotland. Prostate Cancer. Incidence by NHS Board Area of Residence, Scotland 2009-2013 [Internet]. 2015. Available from: https://isdscotland.scot.nhs.uk/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/2015-04-28/si_cancer_male_genital_organs.xls
ISD Scotland. Prostate Cancer. NHS Board Area of Residence: trends in mortality 1988-2013 [Internet]. 2014. Available from: https://isdscotland.scot.nhs.uk/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/2014-10-28/m_cancer_male_genital_organs.xls
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.
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