Prostate Cancer | Cancer


Prostate Cancer

At UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, we offer access to leading urologic oncologists and the latest prostate cancer treatments. Our clinical trials program is one of the largest in the nation, which means we may be able to offer you promising new tests and therapies not available elsewhere.

Medically reviewed on June 13, 2023.

Female medical professional showing something to male patient on mobile tablet

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer starts in the prostate gland, located behind the base of your penis and below your bladder. The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system and helps make semen.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, second only to skin cancer. Prostate cancer is less likely than other cancers to spread to other parts of your body, so early diagnosis typically leads to effective treatment.

Our specialists at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center expertly treat men with all types and stages of prostate cancer. We lead the way in prostate cancer research to provide you with more ways to live a long, full life.  


Prostate Cancer Symptoms

Prostate cancer usually does not cause noticeable problems in its early stages. As cancer progresses, you may experience symptoms. Symptoms can be like those of other prostate conditions, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostatitis (prostate inflammation).

Common Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Bloody urine
  • Burning or pain with urination or ejaculation
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Pain when sitting
  • Weak urine stream

Advanced Symptoms

Cancer that has spread beyond your prostate (metastasized) may cause:

  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent pain in your back, hips or pelvis
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss

Prostate Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown. Like other cancers, prostate cancer develops when cells grow and divide at an abnormal rate. Cells can form tumors that are either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Sometimes noncancerous cells form in the prostate, leading to a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is also called an enlarged prostate. Having BPH doesn’t cause prostate cancer or increase your risk.

Other factors that can increase your risk for prostate cancer include: 


The risk of prostate cancer increases in men over age 50. About 60% of men with prostate cancer are over 65.

Environmental Exposure

Military veterans exposed to Agent Orange, a chemical used during the Vietnam War, are at a higher risk of prostate cancer.

Family History and Genetics

You’re more likely to develop prostate cancer if a close relative also had the disease. Some genetic abnormalities passed down through families may increase your risk, but hereditary prostate cancer isn’t common.


Prostate cancer is more common in North America and northern Europe. It’s on the rise in Asia.


High levels of testosterone (male sex hormone) may cause your prostate to get bigger and increase your risk for prostate cancer. More research is needed.


Black men more often than white men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. They are also more likely to develop prostate cancer earlier and receive diagnosis later than white men.


Research is ongoing about the link between your weight and prostate cancer. Some factors, such as being less active or overweight, may increase your risk.


Diagnosing Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is highly treatable when diagnosed early. At UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, our experienced specialists offer the latest tests to detect, diagnose and stage prostate cancer. You receive streamlined, compassionate care from a multispecialty team.

Your physician may recommend:

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test

A PSA test checks your blood for unusually high levels of a certain protein made by your prostate.

Digital rectal exam (DRE)

Your physician feels your prostate through your rectum (area above your anus) to check for bumps or other abnormalities.


We remove a small sample of tissue from your prostate gland during a ultrasound that we perform through your rectum. A pathologist looks at the sample under a microscope to detect cancer cells.

Imaging exams

Imaging exams show cancer that has spread beyond the prostate gland. Your physician may recommend an MRI, CT scan or PET scan if you have advanced prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer Treatments at UC Davis Health

Our multispecialty team of experts in oncology and urologic surgery work together with you to offer prostate cancer treatment customized to your unique needs.

We discuss your goals for treatment, and the risks and benefits of each therapy, so that you can make an informed decision about your care. Our goal is to improve the quality and longevity of your life.

Your treatment may include: 

Active Surveillance

If you have low-risk prostate cancer (unlikely to spread), we may not recommend treatment right away. Treatment side effects may include erectile dysfunction or incontinence, so we make every effort to preserve your quality of life. Our experts carefully monitor your condition with tests, and intervene if the cancer becomes more severe.

Watchful Waiting

Older adults with advanced prostate cancer may decide against treatment. In this case, we monitor your condition (usually without frequent tests) and treat symptoms so that you’re more comfortable.

Prostate Cancer Surgery

Surgery may cure early-stage prostate cancers. At UC Davis Health, we specialize in both open and minimally invasive prostatectomies (surgery to remove the prostate gland). Our surgeons routinely perform robotic-assisted prostatectomies, which help you recover faster and with less pain.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy for prostate cancer uses drugs to reduce the amount of testosterone in your body. Since prostate cancer cells use testosterone to grow, hormone therapy may help prevent prostate cancer from coming back. We usually use hormone therapy in combination with surgery or radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. You may receive radiation therapy on its own, or after prostate surgery. We typically reserve radiation therapy for people whose cancer has not spread beyond their prostate.

Other Types of Prostate Cancer Treatment

At UC Davis, we offer the full range of prostate cancer treatments in addition to surgery and radiation. Your physician may recommend chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapies. All of these treatments work on cancer in different ways. Together, we choose the best therapies for your needs.

Learn more about UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Preventing Prostate Cancer

You can't prevent prostate cancer. While there isn’t a direct link between weight and prostate cancer, adopting a healthy lifestyle may reduce your risk.

Regular exercise, not smoking and a healthy diet can decrease your chances of some cancers and other diseases. Talk to your physician about prostate cancer screenings.

Drugs that lower testosterone levels may reduce the risk of prostate cancer or the likelihood of dying from prostate cancer. This approach is called “chemoprevention.” Physicians and researchers at UC Davis are at the forefront of developing new approaches to chemoprevention for prostate cancer.  

"Prostate Cancer: Statistics," American Society of Clinical Oncology,

"Prostate Cancer: Risk Factors and Prevention," American Society of Clinical Oncology, 

How many cases?

201KMen diagnosed with prostate cancer in the U.S. in 2020

Who does it affect?

60%People affected over age 65

Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology: Prostate Cancer Statistics

Request an Appointment

Our cancer specialists provide thorough evaluations and personalized treatment plans. Learn more about how to make an appointment at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.



UC Davis Health Referring Physicians

For providers in UC Davis Medical Group or our Cancer Care Network

External Referring Physicians

For providers who are external clinicians

Awards and Recognitions
USNWR Best Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best hospital in cancer, cardiology, heart & vascular surgery, diabetes & endocrinology, ENT, geriatrics, neurology & neurosurgery, obstetrics & gynecology, and pulmonology & lung surgery.

Learn more
US News & World Report best Children’s Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best children’s hospital in diabetes & endocrinology, nephrology, and orthopedics*. (*Together with Shriners Children’s)

Learn more
USNWR best regional hospital badge

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital by U.S. News, and high-performing in COPD, colon cancer surgery, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, hip fracture, hip replacement, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, lung cancer surgery, ovarian cancer surgery, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery, stroke, TAVR, uterine cancer surgery, gastroenterology & GI surgery, and orthopedics.

Learn more
Magnet designation badge

The nation’s highest nursing honor

UC Davis Medical Center has received Magnet® recognition, the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence.

Learn more
Chime acute badge

“Most Wired” for acute care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

Learn more
Chime ambulatory badge

“Most Wired” for ambulatory care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

Learn more
NCI badge

World-class cancer care

One of ~56 U.S. cancer centers designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.

Learn more

A leader in health care equality

For the 13th consecutive year, UC Davis Medical Center has been recognized as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader by the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization.

Learn more
See more