What is prostate cancer?

The five warning signs of prostate cancer are pain in your bones from the cancer spreading, compression of the spine symptoms, pain during urination or ejaculation, sudden onset of erectile dysfunction, and blood in the urine or semen.
The five warning signs of prostate cancer are pain in your bones from the cancer spreading, compression of the spine symptoms, pain during urination or ejaculation, sudden onset of erectile dysfunction, and blood in the urine or semen.

Prostate cancer affects men in their prostate glands. One of the most common cancers found in men, it can go undetected for years. A slow-growing tumor will not push against anything to cause pain in the early stages.

Prostate cancer may first appear through urinary symptoms. The tumor can press on and restrict your urethra, which can cause interrupted urine flow and pain when urinating. You may also experience loss of bladder control, frequent urge to urinate, or burning sensation while urinating. These early signs of prostate cancer may go undetected or be associated with the wrong issue.

Early screenings can determine if you have cancerous cells in your prostate. About 85 percent of prostate cancers are detected in early screenings. Cancer cells can be found before you experience any kind of symptoms.

Signs of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer can be hard to self-diagnose because there are not many symptoms. When you start to see changes in your prostate, you will want to compare your symptoms to the following five warning signs before going to your doctor:

  1. Pain in your bones from the cancer spreading
  2. Compression of the spine symptoms
  3. Pain during urination or ejaculation
  4. Sudden onset of erectile dysfunction
  5. Blood in the urine or semen

Types of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is a tumor that forms in your prostate. There are two types of tumor growth in prostate cancer. They include:

Benign growths

These are noncancerous growths that do not spread to other body parts. They are typically easy to treat and are not life-threatening.

Malignant growths

The more serious type of growth is malignant. These tumors can spread and grow quickly. They will usually spread beyond your prostate and into surrounding areas, depending on what stage of cancer you are in. Early stages are easier to treat.

Causes of prostate cancer

Doctors are not entirely certain what causes prostate cancer to form, but there are some factors that increase your risk of having it. These include:


Prostate cancer is more likely to occur in Black men and Caribbean men of African ancestry. When it does occur in these men, it’s more likely to happen at a younger age. It is less likely to develop in Asian and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic white men.


Certain genes may put you at risk for developing prostate cancer. If you have a family history of cancer, you should prioritize getting early prostate screenings.


Prostate cancer is more likely to happen in men from North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and Caribbean islands. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America. Scientists are unsure of the reason, but it may be attributed to lifestyle and diet differences.


If you smoke, drink alcohol, or are obese, you may be at greater risk for developing prostate cancer. Systemic health problems can also increase the likelihood.

Because there is so much uncertainty as to what actually causes prostate cancer, it’s best to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get consistent, early prostate screenings.


Prostate Illustrion Browse through our medical image collection to see illustrations of human anatomy and physiology See Images

Diagnosing prostate cancer

Your doctor may run several tests to diagnose prostate cancer. They may first do a digital rectal examination and then a biopsy, where a tissue sample is examined to determine if cancerous cells are present. Then they’ll run imaging tests to find the size and stage of your cancer. Once your doctor has an official diagnosis and understanding of your prostate cancer, they will determine the right path of treatment for you.

Treatments for prostate cancer

Prostate cancer cells typically grow slowly, and when they are found early, there is an easier path to treatment. If your cancer has not spread to your bones or surrounding organs, it is easier to treat. Many treatments are available for prostate cancer, including:

Your doctor will discuss what the right option is for you.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/13/2021
American Cancer Society: "Prostate Cancer Risk Factors."

Cancer Treatment Centers of America: "Prostate cancer symptoms."

John Hopkins Medicine: "Prostate Cancer Symptoms."

Moffitt Cancer Center: "What Are the Five Warning Signs of Prostate Cancer?"

National Cancer Institute: "Prostate Cancer Treatment (PDQ)–Patient Version."

Prostate Cancer Foundation: "Prostate Cancer Causes."