Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in European males, with a lifetime risk approaching 10%. It is predominantly a disease of older men.
The usual type of prostate cancer is an adenocarcinoma and this arises from the cells that line the secretory ducts of the prostate. A measure of the aggressiveness of the cancer is made by the pathologist from the biopsy using Gleason scoring, which is a scoring system that grades by different characteristics associated with aggressiveness and leading to scores between 2 (very indolent) to 10 (very aggressive). Research assays may, in the future, detect more aggressive characteristics by other means. One research assay detects mutated copies of the gene (p53 in the healthy form being a tumour suppressor gene). Damaged versions occur in many malignancies and are associated with tumour progression. Other genetic assay work may become relevant in the future.