The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that helps make and store seminal fluid. Generally prostate cancer will develop from the gland cells.

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst New Zealand men with around 3,000 cases registered each year. Many prostate cancers do not cause any symptoms for many years. Most are slow growing and rarely spread to other parts of the body.

In more detail

Prostate cancers are commonly slow growing, but can cause problems once the cancer grows too big. This will cause the prostate to squeeze the urethra, which it surrounds, making passing urine difficult.

Although it is rare, prostate cancer can metastasise to other parts of the body. Those that do, tend to appear in the lymph nodes, lungs, bones and the liver.

Radiation treatment is used in cases where a low-grade cancer is still confined within the prostate gland. It may also be combined with hormone therapy to treat prostate cancers that have grown into nearby tissues. This can reduce the size of the tumour where a cancer is not completely removed or recurs after surgery. For slow-growing tumours, radiation is often used simply to reduce the size of the cancer and provide relief from symptoms.