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Prostate cancer

  • Definition

    Prostate cancer is cancer that starts in the prostate gland. The prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that makes up part of a man's reproductive system. It wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.

    Alternative Names

    Cancer - prostate; Biopsy - prostate; Prostate biopsy; Gleason score

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of death from cancer in men of all ages and is the most common cause of death from cancer in men over age 75. Prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than 40.

    People who are at higher risk include:

    • African-American men, who are also likely to develop cancer at every age
    • Men who are older than 60
    • Men who have a father or brother with prostate cancer

    Other people at risk include:

    • Men exposed to agent orange exposure
    • Men who abuse alcohol
    • Farmers
    • Men who eat a diet high in fat, especially animal fat
    • Tire plant workers
    • Painters
    • Men who have been exposed to cadmium

    The lowest number of cases occurs in Japanese men living in Japan (this benefit is lost after one generation of living in the U.S.) and those who do not eat meat (vegetarians).

    A common problem in almost all men as they grow older is an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH). This problem does not raise your risk of prostate cancer.