What is prostate cancer? – How does it grow?

Prostate cancer (not prostrate cancer, which is a common misspelling) results when abnormal cells in a man’s body start to grow out of control. It is a cancer that only affects men.

The problem with prostate cancer cells

These cells don’t live and die in a normal way. They continue to grow and divide, forming more abnormal cells.

If they enter the bloodstream or lymph vessels, they can travel to other parts of the body (called metastasis).


The good news is that this type of cancer tends to be slow growing. But there are no “absolutes” with the disease.

A man may have more than one type

The most common is called adenocarcinoma, which is cancer that starts in gland cells.

Other less common types can include:

  • Small cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Transitional cell carcinoma
  • Sarcomas
  • Epithelial tumors

In some men, the cancer may remain contained (only inside) in the gland as long as they live (called localized cancer).

When cancer moves beyond the gland, the cancer cells adapt to the surrounding environment.


Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether a man’s cancer will stay contained.

Doctors also can’t predict exactly when the cancer will move beyond the gland.

Next: What are the causes?

PSA testing
Digital rectal exam
Gleason score
Advanced cancer

Reference: The American Cancer Society. Prostate Cancer. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 17, 2015.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *