The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits just below a man’s bladder in front of the rectum. Prostate cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in prostate tissues. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men other than skin cancer however, the disease progresses slowly, so most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. And many men die of old age without ever knowing they had prostate cancer.
Today, the prognosis for patients who are diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer is much brighter, thanks to developments in immunotherapy treatments that have been proven in clinical trials to extend survival, allowing patients to return to their normal routines.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Prostate cancer generally causes no symptoms in its early stages. As the cancer progresses, some men experience symptoms including a weak or interrupted urine flow. Sudden urges to urinate or frequent urination, especially at night, and urinary incontinence are also telltale signs. Some men have trouble starting their urine flow or emptying their bladder completely. Advanced prostate cancer symptoms include pain or burning while urinating, or blood in the urine or semen. If the cancer spreads to the spinal area, symptoms often include severe pain that won’t go away in the back, hips or pelvis.
Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer
- Men age 65 or older
- African-American and Jamaican men with African ancestry
- Family history of prostate or breast cancer
- Mutations in a portion of the DNA called the BRCA 1 or 2 genes
- Diets high in red meat and fatty foods; low in fruits and vegetables
Prostate Cancer Screenings
Screening is important because prostate cancer shows no symptoms in its earliest stages. The American Cancer Society recommends that men who have one or more high risk factors discuss prostate cancer screening with their doctor. Screenings include a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA), testosterone and cholesterol and a digital rectal exam.
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How Prostate Cancer is Diagnosed
The experienced urologists and surgeons at Jefferson’s Multidisciplinary Genitourinary Oncology Center and Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson work as a team to confirm your diagnosis. Our thorough examination begins with a discussion about your symptoms and a review of your medical history.
Jefferson's experts will conduct a series of physical exams including a digital rectal exam to feel for abnormalities in your prostate gland. We’ll also conduct tests including a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test, and diagnostic imaging tests such as the Color Doppler or 3D Ultrasound. Our doctors may also take prostate tissue samples for conducting a biopsy.
Jefferson was among the first hospitals in the Delaware Valley to offer MRI Fusion Biopsy, an innovative procedure that gets accurate results using fewer tissue samples from a patient, lessening the chance of infection.
If you think you may be at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer because of your genetics, the experts at Jefferson’s Clinical Cancer Genetics Service can provide genetic risk assessment, genetic counseling and genetic testing.
Our world-renowned doctors will recommend a personalized treatment plan based on your symptoms, your age and your physical condition plus your cancer’s size and stage of growth. The treatment options are many, ranging from watchful waiting of early-stage cancer that is expected to grow slowly to completely removing the prostate.
The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson was the first in the area to offer sipuleucel-T (Provengel®), an exciting new immunotherapy treatment that has been shown in clinical trials to extend survival for patients with advanced prostate cancer. We were also the first in the Delaware Valley to remove the prostate laparoscopically using the minimally invasive da Vinci® Surgical System.
Our full complement of treatments includes:
- Hormone Therapy – Also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) or androgen suppression therapy, this therapy reduces the level of male hormones to stop them from affecting prostate cancer cells
- Vaccine Therapy – Using a vaccine to boost the immune system to get it to attack prostate cancer cells
- Chemotherapy – Using anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells
- Intensity-modulated Radiation Therapy – Also called IMRT, this therapy uses external energy to kill cancer cells
- Brachytherapy – Inserting radioactive implants directly into the tissue to kill cancer cells
- Cryosurgery – Using liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill cancer cells
- Robotic-assisted Prostatectomy – Using laparoscopic surgery for precise and careful removal of the prostate gland with minimal damage to the surrounding tissue
Why Choose Jefferson for Prostate Cancer?
We’re your Philadelphia area resource for nationally-recognized oncology expertise. Jefferson’s Multidisciplinary Genitourinary Oncology Center is one of only a handful of centers in the U.S. dedicated to advanced patient care for prostate cancer. Our Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson is one of only eight National Cancer Institute NCI-designated Prostate Cancer Centers of Excellence in the U.S. We’re also ranked as one of the nation’s best hospitals for cancer treatment by U.S.News & World Report.
In addition to being a BlueCross/Blue Shield Blue Distinction Center for complex and rare cancers based on our surgical case volume, our world-renowned researchers are pioneering new approaches to cancer treatments and designing effective cancer prevention strategies.
At Jefferson, we not only offer our patients best-in-class prostate cancer medical services, our compassionate care includes a support program to meet your emotional and psychological needs, too.
Clinical trials are the best way patients can receive new therapies and procedures. To find out if a clinical trial might be right for you, ask your health care provider or contact the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Clinical Research Management Office at 215-955-1661.
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