Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Topic Page:
The prostate is a gland located at the base of a man’s bladder, behind the pubic bone and in front of the rectum. This gland, which is roughly the size and shape of a small crab apple, weighs only about an ounce in young men. It surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine away from the bladder and transports semen during ejaculation. A good way to envision the prostate is as an apple with the core removed, with the urethra passing through the middle.
The prostate’s primary function is to produce prostatic fluid, a component of semen. Also, during ejaculation, smooth muscles in the prostate contract to help propel semen through the urethra. Technically the prostate is not part of the urinary system. But because of its location and relationship to the urethra, the prostate can (and often does) affect urinary function.
Prostate cancer: After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men and is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer deaths. In 2009, an estimated 192,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 27,000 died of the disease.
The good news is that reliable diagnostic tests and numerous treatment options are available, and death rates from prostate cancer are on the decline. Nearly 100 percent of men are still alive five years after a prostate cancer diagnosis, about 93 percent are alive 10 years after diagnosis, and approximately 79 percent are alive 15 years after diagnosis.
Although the symptoms of prostate cancer are similar to those of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the conditions are not related. Having BPH neither increases nor decreases a man’s risk of prostate cancer. In addition, it is possible for a man to have both conditions at the same time.
For more information on BPH and prostatitis, go to the Enlarged Prostate and Prostatitis Topic Page.
How Johns Hopkins can help. If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, obtaining accurate information is critically important. Johns Hopkins Medicine is ideally positioned to provide you with timely, authoritative information and advice on the full range of your prostate cancer treatment options. Johns Hopkins is ranked No. 1 in Urology by U.S. News and World Report's annual Rankings of American hospitals—and No. 1 overall.
- At Johns Hopkins Health Alerts, H. Ballentine Carter, M.D., Director of Adult Urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Urology, and his colleagues discuss the prevention, diagnosis, and daily management of prostate cancer.
- You’ll find articles on: the value of the PSA velocity test, the Gleason score, quality of life issues after prostate cancer treatment, new screening tests, choosing the right treatment for your prostate cancer, the role of the pathologist, the TMN prostate cancer staging system, and much more.