What is the prostate?

The more you know about the prostate, what it is, how it works, and where it’s located, the better you can understand how prostate conditions and prostate procedures may impact your current and ongoing health.

This page is a resource to help you understand the prostate, common conditions and treatment options so you can take better control of your health and make the decisions that are right for you.

Prostate at a glance

  • The prostate is a gland
  • The prostate sits on the pelvic floor
  • The prostate is surrounded by nerves
  • The prostate surrounds the urethra
Prostate model

Prostate anatomy

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis, and only appears in males.

The prostate is just in front of the rectum.

The urethra runs through the center of the prostate, from the bladder to the penis, letting urine flow out of the body1.

Prostate function

The prostate is an important part of the male reproductive system.

The prostate contracts during ejaculation and squirts a fluid into the urethra; this fluid is known as prostatic fluid1.


Why is prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing useful?

Psa testing 2

PSA, a protein produced in the ducts of the prostate, is absorbed into the bloodstream. PSA is produced by both normal and malignant prostate cells.

A PSA blood test measures the amount of PSA found in the blood. PSA levels in the blood can also increase with prostate diseases such as BPH, prostate cancer and prostatitis (infection of the prostate). The PSA test, combined with the digital rectal exam is the most accurate guide to early cancer detection.

The PSA level that is considered normal for an average man increases with age and can range from 0 to 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml)1.


1. National Cancer Institute. (2011, August). Understanding Prostate Changes. Retrieved from: http://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/understanding-prostate-changes/prostate-booklet.pdf.

2. Nakajima, C., Iimura, Y., & Yamanishi, T. (2001). The reason why prostatic hyperplasia causes lower urinary tract symptoms. A Journal of Medical Sciences of Japan and Other Asian Countries, 44(2), 91-96.

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