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What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer begins when abnormal cells in the prostate start growing in an uncontrolled way.

How common is it?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men (apart from common skin cancers). There are about 18,100 new cases in Australia every year. About 1 in 10 men will get prostate cancer before the age of 75.

Anyone with a prostate can get prostate cancer – men, transgender women and intersex people. For information specific to your situation, speak to your doctor.

Non-cancerous changes to the prostate

A normal prostate often grows larger as you age – this is not usually due to cancer. This growth of the prostate is called benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).

BPH may press on the urethra and affect how you urinate. You may have:

  • a weak stream of urine
  • to go to the toilet more often, especially at night
  • to go urgently
  • trouble getting started
  • dribbling of urine after going
  • a feeling that the bladder is not empty.

These are known as lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and they can also occur in advanced prostate cancer. If you have LUTS, speak to your doctor.

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed in March 2022 by the following expert content reviewers: A/Prof Ian Vela, Urologic Oncologist, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland University of Technology, and Urocology, QLD; A/Prof Arun Azad, Medical Oncologist, Urological Cancers, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Nicholas Brook, Consultant Urological Surgeon, Royal Adelaide Hospital and A/Prof Surgery, The University of Adelaide, SA; Peter Greaves, Consumer; Graham Henry, Consumer; Clin Prof Nat Lenzo, Nuclear Physician and Specialist in Internal Medicine, Group Clinical Director, GenesisCare Theranostics, and Notre Dame University Australia, WA; Henry McGregor, Men’s Health Physiotherapist, Adelaide Men’s Health Physio, SA; Jessica Medd, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Department of Urology, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Dr Tom Shakespeare, Director, Radiation Oncology, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Lismore Public Hospitals, NSW; A/Prof David Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Daffodil Centre, Cancer Council NSW; Allison Turner, Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse (PCFA), Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Maria Veale, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council QLD; Michael Walkden, Consumer; Prof Scott Williams, Radiation Oncology Lead, Urology Tumour Stream, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Professor of Oncology, Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology, The University of Melbourne, VIC.