The prostate, which is the organ responsible for providing the body with seminal fluid that safely transports healthy sperm to eggs during fertilization, is divvied up into distinct zones:
- The peripheral zone takes up the largest portion of the prostate, and most prostate cancers originate in it. Luckily, this zone can easily be accessed during digital rectal exams, during which a doctor inserts a gloved finger into a patient’s anus to examine the prostate for any abnormalities.
- The transition zone envelops the portion of the urethra that threads through the prostate, aka the prostatic urethra. As men get older, they can experience benign prostatic hyperplasia, a harmless condition in which the transition zone grows in size.
- The central zone is found behind the transition zone and surrounds the ejaculatory ducts that connect the seminal vesicles to the prostatic urethra. A very low percentage of prostate cancers begin in this zone.
- Lastly, the anterior fibromuscular stroma is a dense layer of tissue surrounding the top of the prostate; this area is made up of fibrous connective tissue and muscle fibers and is gland-free. Prostate cancer rarely turns up in this area as well.
Prostate zones are best viewed via MRI, which is also incredibly useful in diagnosing prostate cancer in a risk-free, non-invasive way. You can learn more about how our MRI-based prostate cancer screening techniques compare to industry-standard practices here.