Prostate cancer 101

Key disease basics

It is hard to believe that the prostate gland, which is really no bigger than the size of an average walnut, can cause men such problems.  But it can once it becomes cancerous.

Where it’s located

The prostate gland is located deep within the pelvis, between the rectum and the bladder.

It surrounds the upper part of the urethra, the tube that allows urine to flow from the bladder and through the penis.

In the middle of everything

It is surrounded by major arteries, veins, and sphincters that facilitate urinary control. It is also surrounded by tiny, delicate nerves called neurovascular or “nerve bundles.”

In a nutshell, this small, usually harmless gland lies right in the middle of all that controls a man’s urinary and reproductive functions.

Here lies the challenge

Removing the gland is relatively easy.  Removing it without damaging a man's nerve bundles, however, is considerably more challenging. 

Fortunately, it is not a vital organ, and men can live the rest of their lives safely without it.  The main job of the prostate gland is simply to create part of the fluid that makes up semen.

Click on the "next" link to move through a series of short overviews within this section of the website. 

Next: What is prostate cancer?

What are the causes?
PSA testing
Digital rectal exam
Gleason score
Advanced cancer
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Reference: Walsh PC. Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer. New York, NY: Time Warner Book Group; 2001.

Always consult a medical professional.