What is Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the leading form of cancer diagnosed in Canadian men. If diagnosed early, prostate cancer is treatable. Even when the disease is advanced, treatment can eradicate symptoms and prolong survival. Survival rates for prostate cancer have been improving for the last four years, perhaps due to the importance that is placed on early detection.

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What is Cancer?

Cancer is uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The body is made of billions of cells (like building blocks). The cells are replaced over time by dividing and forming new healthy cells. This is done in an organized and controlled fashion. If a cell changes and becomes abnormal (mutates), the control and organization is lost, and the cells grow rapidly, forming a growth (tumor). These growths may be benign (not cancerous), or malignant (cancer).

Benign growths in the prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) cause the gland to swell, which compresses the water passage (urethra), making it difficult to urinate. These changes are common in older men, but are not life threatening.

A malignant tumor (cancer) invades and destroys surrounding tissue. These cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body (metastasize), where they grow and form new tumors.