What is prostate adenocarcinoma? Prostate adenocarcinoma accounts for 95 percent of all prostate cancers. It starts in the prostate gland and, if not treated successfully at an early stage, can spread to other parts of the body. Other than skin cancer, prostate adenocarcinoma is the most common cancer in American men, with 217,730 cases diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Who is most likely to have prostate adenocarcinoma? Prostate adenocarcinoma becomes more common in men over age 50. Age is the most common risk factor, with nearly 63 percent of prostate cancer cases occurring in men over age 65, according to the National Cancer Institute. African-American men have an above average risk. A family history of prostate cancer and a high-fat diet also increase risk. What characterizes prostate adenocarcinoma? Prostate adenocarcinoma can be characterized by changes to the size, shape, or texture of the prostate. Physicians can sometimes detect these changes through a digital rectal exam (DRE). In addition, a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) exam detects the level of PSA, a protein produced by prostate cells, in the blood. Higher PSA levels indicate the possibility of cancer. While most prostate cancers do not present symptoms, urinary abnormalities (such as increased frequency/urgency, decreased stream, or impotence) can be associated with prostate cancer. How does the pathologist make a diagnosis? If the results of a DRE and/or PSA are not within the normal range, a biopsy will be performed. In this procedure, the primary care physician will obtain multiple thin cores of tissue for the pathologist to examine under the microscope. Another way for the pathologist to make a diagnosis of prostate cancer, though less common, is by examining pieces (chips) of prostate tissue, which are removed from the prostate during a transurethral resection. This process is done for enlargement of the prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH).