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Prostate cancer

Almost 4,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in Ireland. This means that 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.

Prostate cancer can be treated with active surveillance, external beam radiotherapy, hormone therapy, brachytherapy, surgery, chemotherapy and watchful waiting.

On this page:

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is when the cells of your prostate gland grow in an abnormal way to form a lump (tumour). In some men prostate cancer grows slowly; in others it grows more quickly and spreads to other parts of your body. Prostate cancer is a common cancer in Ireland. Almost 4,000 men are diagnosed with it each year. 

Early (localised) prostate cancer: This is prostate cancer found only within the prostate gland. It has not spread outside your prostate gland. With early prostate cancer there may be no symptoms. Your doctor may only suspect it after doing a PSA test.

Locally spread prostate cancer: Cancer that has broken through the capsule (covering) of the prostate or has spread outside the gland to nearby tissues. Places where the cancer might spread include tissues such as your seminal vesicles, lymph nodes, neck of your bladder or your back passage (rectum). The seminal vesicles are two glands that sit just behind your prostate gland and store seminal fluid.

Some treatments for locally spread prostate cancer hope to cure it, while others aim to control the disease or stop it from growing.

Metastatic (advanced) prostate cancer: This is when prostate cancer cells have spread and are affecting other parts of your body, away from the prostate gland. The most common place for prostate cancer to spread to is your bones.  Read more about metastatic prostate cancer.

Although prostate cancer is common, it is very successfully treated for the majority.

What is the prostate and what does it do?

The prostate gland is a small gland about the size of a walnut. It lies below your bladder, just in front of your rectum (back passage). 

A tube that carries urine runs through your prostate and into your penis. This tube is known as your urethra or water pipe. If the prostate gland is enlarged it can cause trouble passing urine because it presses on the urethra.

The prostate makes a thick white fluid that mixes with sperm (semen). It also makes a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA), which turns semen into liquid.

If your PSA level is higher than normal, it can sometimes be a sign of prostate cancer. However it can also be a sign of a less serious condition like a prostate or urinary infection.

prostate gland diagram


We use the term ‘man / men’ in our prostate cancer information, but we understand that not everyone who has a prostate gland identifies as a man.

Whoever you are, wherever you come from, we are here for you. For confidential advice, information and support, contact our Support Line on Freephone 1800 200 700.




More information about prostate cancer treatment

Treatment for prostate cancer includes active surveillance, external beam radiotherapy, hormone therapy, brachytherapy, surgery, chemotherapy and watchful waiting. For specific treatment information use the links below.

Coping with prostate cancer treatment and side-effects

Looking for support?

Our cancer support section contains information and advice on coping with cancer for diagnosed patients and their loved ones.

Publications about prostate cancer
Downloadable booklets and factsheets
Prostate cancer infographic logo
Prostate cancer - know what to look for
Know the symptoms of prostate cancer, because spotting cancer early is important. An A4 poster to download, share, or print.
Prostate cancer leaflet
Prostate Cancer - What You Should Know leaflet
This leaflet gives you an overview of prostate cancer, what affects your risk, how it is diagnosed and more.
Understanding Advanced (metastatic) prostate cancer booklet
Metastatic prostate cancer booklet
Information for metastatic prostate cancer patients, including treatment, side-effects, and how to cope.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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