Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The multidisciplinary teams that specialize in treating prostate cancer at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University share this statistic with the goal of educating men about their individual risk for prostate cancer, how it’s diagnosed, and how it can be treated.
The truth is that about one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. This frequency demand that men, and their family and friends, understand the risks they face; screenings that should be followed; and what needed treatments are available.
Who Is at Risk for Prostate Cancer?
The statistics indicate that just about any man is at risk of developing prostate cancer in his lifetime. While that is true, some men need to know that they may be at higher risk than others. This includes:
- Men who are over age 50
- African-American or Caribbean men of African ancestry
- Men with a family history of prostate cancer
- Men with certain gene changes, such as BRCA1, BRCA2 or Lynch syndrome
Researchers are still studying how lifestyle can impact prostate cancer risk, including:
- Healthy weight
- Chemical exposures
- Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate)
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
What Screenings Detect Prostate Cancer?
The best way to manage your risk of prostate cancer is regular prostate cancer screenings. That includes:
- Digital rectal exam (DRE) at an annual wellness exam
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test that checks for elevated PSA levels, which may show signs of prostate cancer
Your doctor can discuss when it’s right for you to have a PSA prostate cancer screening. It is important to remember that even if your blood results have an elevated PSA, it doesn’t mean you have prostate cancer. Your physician will order additional tests to get a clear picture of your health.
What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
One of the most concerning issues with prostate cancer is that there often aren’t any symptoms – at least not until the cancer is in a more advanced stage.
The signs and symptoms of prostate cancer can be minor and are often similar to symptoms of normal aging. That’s why it’s important to have an annual wellness exam, stay up to date on cancer screenings, and talk with your primary care physician about any changes to your health.
Treating Prostate Cancer
Fortunately, if you or a loved one is diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are many effective treatment options. Your urologist and oncologist will work with you to create a treatment plan that’s right for you – one that takes into consideration your diagnosis, medical history and goals. Your treatment plan may include:
- Active surveillance
- Radiation therapy
- Drug therapy include Hormone Therapy, Chemotherapy and immunotherapy
Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer
As the name implies, you’ll meet regularly with your physician to monitor your prostate cancer during active surveillance. Typically, this means regular visits to the doctor (about every 6 months) for a PSA blood test and DRE at least once a year. Depending on your age and risk factors, you may also undergo imaging to monitor prostate cancer growth.
Surgery for Prostate Cancer
Radical prostatectomy – The entire prostate is removed, including seminal vesicle. Advances in care have shifted this procedure from an open procedure with lengthy hospital stay to robotic, minimally invasive surgery that often requires just an overnight stay in the hospital, based on your response to the surgery.
Radiation for prostate cancer
Radiation is a standard treatment modality for prostate cancer. Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or particles to kill cancer cells. There are many different types of radiation therapy, such as:
- External beam radiation
- Brachytherapy (internal radiation)
- Proton therapy
Winship Cancer Institute offers all of these types of radiation therapy, including the innovative radiation technology of proton therapy. This type of radiation delivers numerous benefits to patients, including:
- Reduced risk of damaging nearby healthy tissues and organs
- Fewer side effects and long-term complications (erectile dysfunction, urinary or bowel incontinence)
- Targeted radiation to the tumor site with precise mapping that targets specific tumor sites
Drug Therapy for Prostate Cancer
As with many other cancers, advances in hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy have helped reduce side effects of therapy and improve patients’ quality of life.
The Future is in Your Hands
Any type of cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Talk to your primary care physician about your risk of prostate cancer and to determine if you should schedule a digital rectum exam (DRE) or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood testing. At Winship Cancer Institute, we’re committed to advancing the standard of care for all our patients, including those diagnosed with prostate cancer. Learn more about our prostate cancer treatment program or schedule an appointment with our urology specialists by calling 404-778-4898.
Talk to Our Nurses
Emory HealthConnection is where registered nurses can help you find a location or specialist that’s right for you. Call 404-778-7777 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (M-F).
Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
Seeing more than 17,000 patients a year, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and serves as the coordinating center for cancer research, education and care throughout Emory University.