Prostate cancer

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Cancerous tumours of the prostate

A cancerous tumour of the prostate can grow into and destroy nearby tissue. It can also spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Cancerous tumours are also called malignant tumours.


Adenocarcinoma of the prostate is the most common type of prostate cancer. It accounts for 95% of all prostate cancers.

Adenocarcinoma starts in gland cells. Gland cells in the prostate make mucus and prostatic fluid, which mix with sperm and other fluids to make semen. Most adenocarcinomas are found in the outer part of the prostate, which is called the peripheral zone. Doctors can often feel a cancer in the peripheral zone during a digital rectal exam (DRE).

Adenocarcinoma usually develops in more than one area (site) of the prostate. When cancer is found in more than one area of an organ it is called multifocal cancer. Each site in the prostate can have a different grade.

Rare cancerous tumours of the prostate

The following cancerous tumours of the prostate are rare:

  • urothelial carcinoma (also called transitional cell carcinoma)
  • sarcoma
  • small cell carcinoma
  • carcinoid tumours
  • squamous cell carcinoma

digital rectal exam (DRE)

A physical examination used to check for abnormalities of the rectum or prostate.

During DRE, the doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for unusual lumps or enlargement of the prostate.


A description of a tumour that includes how different the cancer cells look from normal cells (differentiation), how quickly the cancer cells are growing and dividing, and how likely they are to spread.

Grades are based on different grading systems that are used for specific cancers. Some types of cancer do not have a specific grading system.

The process of examining and classifying tumours based on how cancer cells look and behave under the microscope is called grading.