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Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Clinical Consult.

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  • The prostate is a male reproductive organ that contributes seminal fluid to the ejaculate.
  • The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut, averaging 20 to 25 g in volume in an adult male; tends to enlarge after age 50 years
  • Three distinct zones delineate the functional anatomy of the prostate: peripheral zone (largest, neighbors rectal wall, palpable on DRE, most common location for prostate cancer), central zone (contains the ejaculatory ducts), and transition zone (located centrally, adjacent to the urethra).
  • Prostatic epithelial cells produce prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which is used as a tumor marker and in screening.


According to the National Cancer Institute SEER data, an estimated 161,360 men in the United States will be newly diagnosed with carcinoma of the prostate (CaP) in 2017 (1).

  • About 3 million men are living with CaP in the United States (1).
  • An estimated 26,730 men in the United States will die of CaP in 2017 (1).
  • Mean age at diagnosis is 66 years.
  • Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed nonskin cancer in men in the United States (~11.6% lifetime risk) and second leading cause of cancer death in men (only ~3% of all CaP results in CaP-related death) (1).
  • Autopsy studies find foci of latent CaP in 50% of men in their 8th decade of life.
  • Probability of clinical CaP 10.9% (1 in 9) in men aged ≥70 years

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Adenocarcinoma: >95%; nonadenocarcinoma: <5% (most common transitional cell carcinoma)
  • Cells generally stain positive for PSA and prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP).
  • Location of CaP: 70% peripheral zone, 20% transitional zone, 5–10% central zone

Elevated risk if first-degree relative diagnosed with CaP suggesting genetic component; specifics unclear

Risk Factors

  • Age >50 years
  • African American race
  • Positive family history
  • Poorly understood environmental factors

General Prevention

There are no FDA-approved drugs or diet modifications to prevent CaP.

  • Finasteride has been studied for this purpose in a phase III trial called the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. A moderate risk reduction associated with an increased risk of high-grade disease was encountered. Therefore, it has not been FDA-approved for prevention (2)[A].

Screening for prostate cancer is controversial:

  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) currently recommends against screening (Grade D) but is considering changing the recommendation to “The USPSTF recommends that clinicians inform men ages 55 to 69 years about the potential benefits and harms of PSA–based screening for prostate cancer (Grade C)”(3)[A].
  • For men ages 55 to 69 years, the AUA panel recommends shared decision making between physician and patient regarding PSA screening.
  • PSA screening is not recommended in men age <40 years, age >70 years, or any man with <10 years of estimated life expectancy.

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Stephens, Mark B., et al., editors. "Prostate Cancer." 5-Minute Clinical Consult, 27th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2019. Medicine Central, im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/117455/all/Prostate_Cancer.
Prostate Cancer. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, et al, eds. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. 27th ed. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/117455/all/Prostate_Cancer. Accessed April 19, 2019.
Prostate Cancer. (2019). In Stephens, M. B., Golding, J., Baldor, R. A., & Domino, F. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Available from https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/117455/all/Prostate_Cancer
Prostate Cancer [Internet]. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, Domino FJ, editors. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. [cited 2019 April 19]. Available from: https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/117455/all/Prostate_Cancer.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Prostate Cancer ID - 117455 ED - Stephens,Mark B, ED - Golding,Jeremy, ED - Baldor,Robert A, ED - Domino,Frank J, BT - 5-Minute Clinical Consult, Updating UR - https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/117455/all/Prostate_Cancer PB - Wolters Kluwer ET - 27 DB - Medicine Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -