NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Prostate Cancer
Part 1: About prostate cancer
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An organ that
holds and expels urine from
Supporting and binding
tissue that surrounds other
tissues and organs
The time when
teens sexually develop
male genes that are needed
to make babies
that helps sexual organs in
A tube that expels
urine and semen from a
The birth canal
White blood cell:
of blood cell that fights
Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinomas are
cancers that start in cells that line glands and, in the case of prostate cancer,
make semen. Adenocarcinomas of the prostate are the focus of this booklet.
1.3 How prostate cancer spreads
Cancer cells don’t behave like normal cells in three key ways. First, the changes
in genes cause normal prostate cells to grow more quickly and live longer.
Normal cells grow and then divide to form new cells when needed. They also
die when old or damaged. In contrast, cancer cells make new cells that aren’t
needed and don’t die quickly when old or damaged. Over time, cancer cells
form a mass called the primary tumor.
The second way cancer cells differ from normal cells is that they can grow into
(invade) other tissues. If not treated, the primary tumor can grow large and take
over most of the prostate. It can also grow beyond the prostatic capsule and
invade nearby tissues. This growth is called extracapsular extension.
Third, unlike normal cells, cancer cells can leave the prostate. This process is
called metastasis. Prostate cancer can then grow and form tumors in other parts
of the body.
Prostate cancer can spread through blood or lymph vessels that are in the
prostate. Lymph is a clear fluid that gives cells water and food. It also has white
blood cells that fight germs. After draining from the prostate, lymph travels in
vessels to lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small disease-fighting organs that
destroy the germs picked up by lymph. Lymph vessels and nodes are found all
over the body.
Most men with prostate cancer will not die of this disease. However, prostate
cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in men. Most
prostate cancers grow slowly but some are aggressive and grow quickly.
Why some prostate cancers grow fast is unknown and is being studied by