Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among American men. But at Great Lakes Cancer Care, we know there's nothing common about what you are going through. Every cancer is different, and every patient is different. That's why we consider all the factors that influence your situation and then develop a care plan that is personalized to you.
In the early stages of prostate cancer, there are usually no symptoms. The type of symptoms you may experience depends on the size and location of the tumor. If you experience any symptoms, please schedule an appointment to have them checked by your doctor. Symptoms of prostate problems include:
- Weak or interrupted urine flow
- Inability to urinate
- Difficulty in starting or stopping urination
- Need to urinate frequently, especially at night
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Painful or burning urination
- Continuing pain in lower back, pelvis or upper thighs
A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of developing prostate cancer. While some factors cannot be controlled, like your age, ethnicity and family history, there are some that can. Risk factors for prostate cancer include:
After 50 years old, the risk of developing prostate cancer increases. Even though most prostate cancers are found in men over the age 65, all men over 40 should have an annual PSA test to screen for the development of prostate cancer.
Race and Ethnicity
In the US, African Americans have higher rates of developing prostate cancer. They are also more likely to die from prostate cancer than Caucasian men.
Studies have found an association between diets high in fat and an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Living a sedentary lifestyle may put you at greater risk for prostate cancer. Studies have found that exercising regularly may reduce your risk.
Having a father or brother with prostate cancer increases your risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Three different techniques are used to diagnose prostate cancer in men. These techniques include:
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
Generally, prostate cancer is first detected through a routine digital rectal exam (DRE). The doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to ensure there are no nodules or abnormalities on the prostate. If an abnormality is found, your doctor will request further testing through a PSA test or biopsy.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test
As the name suggests, Prostate-Specific Antigen Blood Tests measure the amount of prostate-specific antigens in your blood. Depending on your results, your doctor may recommend a second PSA test or a prostate biopsy, especially if your PSA level is high, or has risen significantly in a short period of time.
High PSA levels can be a sign of prostate cancer, but they may also indicate an inflamed or enlarged prostate. If your test suggests a condition other than prostate cancer, your doctor will recommend further testing. There are many factors to consider when it comes to PSA tests. Please discuss all elevated PSA levels with your doctor.
Diagnosis of prostate cancer is confirmed with a biopsy. Your doctor will take a small tissue sample from your prostate gland. After the sample has been taken, a pathologist will examine it under a microscope to confirm a diagnosis. Prostate biopsies are completed by inserting a core needle into the prostate. Often, the needle is guided by an MRI scan or ultrasound to ensure precision.
Thanks to the advanced treatment options available at Great Lakes Cancer Care, prostate cancer can often be cured or managed. Some of the most common treatment options include:
External Beam Radiation Therapy
This treatment option uses high energy rays to cure cancer. A machine called a linear accelerator creates a beam of radiation, which your cancer is exposed to for 1-2 minutes per treatment. External beam radiation procedures include:
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
- Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
A prostatectomy involves the removal of your prostate gland. There are two main types of surgery:
Also called a traditional or open prostatectomy, a conventional prostatectomy involves your doctor removing your prostate gland through a vertical incision made in your lower abdomen. Depending on how much the cancer has spread, your doctor may also remove surrounding lymph nodes.
In this option—also known as a robotic, laparoscopic or daVinci® prostatectomy—your prostate is removed through a set of tiny incisions made using a robot and microsurgical instruments. This precise surgery protects the delicate prostate nerves, which control the bladder and sexual function. Patients typically experience accelerated recovery time and reduced pain.
This minimally invasive procedure involves placing radioactive seeds inside of your prostate gland to destroy cancer cells. These radioactive seeds emit low-level radiation for approximately one year. During this outpatient procedure, you will receive a general anesthetic, an ultrasound guide will be placed inside your rectum and then approximately 20 needles will be inserted into your prostate through the skin between your scrotum and your rectum.
Hormone therapy is designed to lower the level of testosterone, a hormone produced in the testicles that causes prostate cancer to grow. Lowering your testosterone level can cause prostate cancer to shrink or grow at a slower rate. While hormone therapy does not cure cancer, it can extend and improve your quality of life when it is used in conjunction with other therapies.
Some prostate cancers do not require immediate treatment. For example, if a slow-growing tumor is identified at an early stage, your doctor may recommend simply monitoring your situation closely to determine if and when active treatment should begin.
Cryosurgery is a procedure that freezes the prostate gland under controlled conditions. While this treatment option is not widely utilized, it is occasionally used when other treatment methods have failed.
At Great Lakes Cancer Care we think it's important that you understand your cancer, as well as how we treat it. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to ask the best questions—and for us to give you the best answers. View our library of learning materials below to get started.
- Risk factors for prostate cancer
- Reducing the risk of prostate cancer
- Symptoms of prostate cancer
- Screening for prostate cancer
- How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
- What questions should I ask my doctor?
- What is it like to live with prostate cancer?
- Where can I get more information about prostate cancer?
- AHRQ Shared Decision Making Tool
ZERO - The Project to End Prostate Cancerwww.fightprostatecancer.org
The Project to End Prostate Cancer provides comprehensive treatment information to patients, education to those at risk and conducting more free screenings than ever before. They work to increase research funds from the federal government to find new treatments, and they fund research in the pursuit of a better test for the disease.
Us TOO provides the forum for sharing, caring and learning through its many programs and services designed for both men with cancer and their loved ones. In addition to providing education and support programs, Us TOO is an active advocate for patients and committed to making sure patients have access to the programs, medications, treatments and health care professionals they need for the best possible outcomes.
American Urological Associationwww.auanet.org
The American Urological Association (AUA), founded in 1902, is the premier professional association for the advancement of urologic patient care, and works to ensure that its more than 16,000 members are current on the latest research and practices in urology. The AUA also pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care by providing a wide range of services—including publications, research, the Annual Meeting, continuing medical education and the formulation of health policy.