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Facts & Stats

Overview | The Prostate | Prostate Cancer | Causes and Risk Factors | Signs and Symptoms | Glossary

  • Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin, male-specific cancer in the U.S., affecting one in nine men
  • Approximately 174,650 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019
  • About 31,620 men will die this year from prostate cancer (87 men every day); prostate cancer is the second largest cancer killer of men following lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer has no symptoms until it’s advanced
  • The disease is always treatable; but if detected early, prostate cancer is often curable
  • African American men have the highest incidence of prostate cancer; they are 60 percent more likely to develop the disease and more than twice as likely to die from it compared to Caucasian men
  • Men with a family history of prostate cancer are at higher risk for developing prostate cancer
  • Men who served in the military during the Vietnam and Korean wars who were exposed to Agent Orange are at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer (and other cancers/diseases)
  • Screening for prostate cancer includes a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test and a DRE (digital rectal exam); a biopsy is required to diagnose prostate cancer
  • Since more than 220,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015 compared to 175,000 in 2019, we’re concerned that confusion over inconsistent messages about the value of PSA testing for prostate cancer is causing some men/physicians to forego testing for early detection resulting in an increase in prostate cancer initially diagnosed at a more advanced stage
  • Nearly 3 million men in the U.S. are living with a prostate cancer diagnosis; that number is estimated to climb to 4 million by 2024 as men in the baby boomer generation age
  • Rather than any “quick fix” for prostate cancer, there are many treatment options and related side effects that each patient needs to evaluate


No one knows the exact cause of prostate cancer. Doctors can seldom explain why one man develops the disease and another does not. Research has shown that men with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop prostate cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease.

Age: This is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. The disease is rare in men younger than 45, with the average age of 70 at the time of diagnosis.

Family history: A man’s risk of prostate cancer is higher than average if his brother or father had the disease. A man with one close relative with the disease has double the risk. With two close relatives, his risk is five-fold. With three, the chance is 97%.

Race: Prostate cancer is more common in African American men. It is less common in Asian and American Indian men. African American males have a prostate cancer incidence rate up to 60% higher than while males and double the mortality (death) rate of white males.

Exposure to Chemicals: Men who served in the military during the Vietnam and Korean wars who were exposed to Agent Orange are at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer (and other cancers/diseases)

The Prostate

  • A small gland located at the bottom of the bladder, surrounding the topmost section of the urethra, the tube that drains urine from the bladder
  • Produces prostatic fluid
  • Connected to the seminal vesicles, which produce fluid that mixes with prostatic fluid to form semen, the substance in which sperm is transported
  • Tubes from the testicles called the vas deferens carry sperm to the prostate where it mixes with fluid from the prostate and seminal vesicles to form semen.
Prostate Anatomy

Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer

Cells make up all of your body’s tissues and organs, including the prostate. Normally, cells within the prostate grow, divide, interact, and die. Normal cells are limited in their growth. Prostate cancer cells, however, have lost control and grow on top of each other, forming a tumor. The only thing limiting cancer cell growth is the amount of blood supply. Prostate cancer cells can also break away from the prostate and travel throughout your body, attach to other tissues, and continue to grow, a process called metastasis. What causes normal prostate cancer cells to become cancer cells isn’t fully understood, but it involves a disruption of the processes that control normal cell growth and death.

Causes and Risk Factors

The causes of prostate cancer are not fully understood, although it is believed that multiple factors can contribute to your overall risk, including your family background, ethnicity, diet, and environmental factors.

One out of nine men will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime. African American men are 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer, and twice as likely to die from prostate cancer, in comparison to Caucasian men.

A man with a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer has an increased chance of also being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Some experts suggest that men with a higher risk of developing the disease begin testing for it beginning at age 35, however no study has yet proven that lives are saved by testing at that age. The best advice is for men to make an informed decision.

Men who served in the military during the Vietnam and Korean wars who were exposed to Agent Orange are at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer (and other cancers/diseases)

Sexual preferences and behavior are not risk factors for developing prostate cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

Early-stage prostate cancer may not be associated with any obvious signs or symptoms. Most cases of prostate cancer are detected by testing men who have no signs or symptoms.

The signs and symptoms of advancing prostate cancer may include

  • Pelvic pain
  • Frequent need for urination
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Bone pain