Print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of prostate cancer

Tirohanga whānui ki te mate pukupuku repe tātea

This page has links to information in te reo Māori.


Your prostate gland is a small walnut-shaped gland that surrounds the opening of your bladder.

Prostate cancer is caused when some of the cells within your prostate gland start to grow out of control, invading and destroying healthy cells. Prostate cancer usually grows slowly, but sometimes it can grow rapidly and spread to other areas, such as your bones, liver and lungs.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand men. Most men who develop prostate cancer are over 65. It's rare in men younger than 55.

You have an increased risk of prostate cancer if you have a relative who has had it, especially if this is your father or brother.

If prostate cancer is found in its early stages, it can usually be cured. But not all prostate cancer needs treating.

Eating well, being physically active and being a healthy weight may reduce your risk of prostate cancer.

Symptoms of prostate cancer

Many men with prostate cancer have no symptoms.

You may get symptoms such as:

If you have these symptoms, see your general practice team. The symptoms will usually be caused by an enlarged prostate, which is not cancer.

Diagnosing prostate cancer

As many men with prostate cancer have no symptoms, it's important to have regular checks with your general practice team.

The advice on the right age to start checking your prostate varies. But a good guide for most men is to start checking at around 50. If your father or brother has had prostate cancer, your risk of developing prostate cancer is higher. In this case, you should consider being checked from age 40.

A check will usually involve a PSA blood test and a digital rectal exam. To do a digital rectal exam, your GP inserts a lubricated gloved finger into your anal canal. This lets them feel for any abnormalities with your prostate.

If your GP has any concerns, you may need to have a procedure to take a sample of your prostate. This is known as a prostate biopsy.

You may also need an MRI scan to check your prostate.

Treating prostate cancer

There are many different treatment options depending on the stage of your cancer and your general health and fitness. See Treating prostate cancer for details.

  HealthInfo recommends the following videos

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Treating prostate cancer

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2022.


See also:


Inherited cancer & BRCA genes

Page reference: 542416

Review key: HIPRH-45800