Prostate Cancer Prostate Cancer
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—Department of Health and Human Services

All men are at risk for prostate cancer but older age, race, and family history may increase risk. Learn about the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening.

Among men in the United States, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer (other than some kinds of skin cancer). It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, after lung cancer, and the seventh leading cause of death overall for men in this country.

Several things may increase a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer, including:

• Age. The older a man is, the greater his risk for getting prostate cancer.1

• Family history. A man with a father, brother, or son who has had prostate cancer is two to three times more likely to develop the disease himself.1

• Race. Prostate cancer is more common in some racial and ethnic groups than in others, but medical experts do not know why. Prostate cancer is more common among African American men than among white men. It is less common among Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American men.1

The most commonly used screening test for prostate cancer is called the PSA, or prostate specific antigen test. The PSA test is a blood test that measures the prostate-specific antigen, an enzyme produced only by the prostate, to see if the PSA level is within normal limits. The doctor also may use this test to check for any change in PSA level compared to the previous PSA test.

Another test that is used to find prostate cancer is the digital rectal exam, or the DRE. During this test, the doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum. This allows the doctor to feel the back portion of the prostate (where most cancers begin) for size and any irregularities.