Each year, over 230,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the U.S., and over 35,000 deaths are caused annually by the disease. Approximately one in every six men will develop this form of cancer, which is second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer death in men, and the likelihood of developing prostate cancer increases with age.
Every man over age 40 is at risk for prostate cancer. And African Americans have the highest risk for developing the disease. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer also greatly increases a man's likelihood of developing the disease. In addition, studies show that a high-fat diet may contribute to the development of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor that most often begins in the outer part of the prostate. As the tumor grows, it may spread to the inner part of the prostate. It must grow fairly large before it presses on the urethra and interferes with urination. Cancer that is confined within the prostate and has not spread is called localized prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer also may spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, the lungs, and the bones, especially the bones of the hip and lower back.
If prostate cancer is allowed to progress without treatment, it may spread to other organs, causing disability and sometimes death. Advanced prostate cancer is more likely to cause symptoms. However, by the time prostate cancer has reached this stage, it is less responsive to treatment.