Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is found mainly in older men. In fact, the main risk factor for prostate cancer is being over 50 years of age.

As men age, the prostate may get bigger and block the urethra or bladder. This may cause difficulty in urination or can interfere with sexual function. The condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and although it is not cancer, surgery may be needed to correct it. The symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia or of other problems in the prostate may be similar to symptoms of prostate cancer. Possible signs of prostate cancer include a weak flow of urine or frequent urination.

Our patients with prostate cancer are treated at the Urologic Cancer Unit. See specific treatment options for Prostate cancer.

You can also review the tabs at top of this page for information on prostate cancer symptoms and risks, diagnosis, and treatment.

Are you eligible for a prostate cancer study?

UC San Diego is recruiting men with prostate cancer for Men's Eating and Living Study (MEAL) to help us understand how diet might affect prostate cancer outcome. Learn more.


These and other symptoms may be caused by prostate cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

  • Weak or interrupted urine flow
  • Inability to urinate, or difficulty starting or stopping the urine flow
  • Need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain or burning on urination
  • Continual pain in lower back, pelvis, hips or upper thighs
  • Painful ejaculation

Risk factors

  • Age (50 or older; more than 75% of diagnosis are in men over age 65)
  • A Black American
  • Living in North America and Northwestern Europe
  • Family history (especially with relatives diagnosed before age 55)
  • Diet high in fat

In addition to taking a thorough history and performing a physical examination, your doctor will perform one or more of the following tests to diagnose prostate cancer:

  • AUA symptom score: A series of questions from the American Urological Association (AUA) that measures how bad your urinating problems are. Sometimes these problems are caused by prostate cancer that is blocking your urine flow.
  • Digital rectal exam: The doctor inserts a gloved finger into your rectum to feel your prostate gland
  • PSA test: Measures the levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. A higher level of PSA may be a sign of an enlargement, infection, or cancer of the prostate
  • Urine-flow rate test: This test measures your urine and how fast it comes out. Sometimes a low flow rate is caused by prostate cancer.
  • Urine test: Some of your urine is sent to a lab and checked for blood, infection, or abnormal cells.

If any exam results are abnormal, your doctor may recommend additional tests such as transrectal ultrasound (TRUS)-guided prostate biopsy.

NFL Hall of Famer Michael Haynes talks about how prostate cancer screening saved his life.

At UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, you and our skilled team of radiation oncologists, urologic surgeons, and medical oncologists will collaborate to choose the treatment that is best suited for your case.

Our physicians explain your options

Watch short video clips of our experts explaining risk assessment, “watchful waiting,” radiation therapy, robotic surgery and more.

Read more about prostate cancer treatment options at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Because prostate cancer tends to grow very slowly, treatment may also consist of simple observation, also known as "watchful waiting," without surgery or radiation. You can ask your physician whether this treatment is appropriate for you.