Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, with nearly one in six developing the disease at some point in their lifetime. With appropriate prostate screenings, most men are diagnosed early and have a range of safe and effective treatments offering an excellent prognosis.
At Washington Cancer Institute, our experienced specialists design the best treatment plans possible for each one of our prostate cancer patients. This means using the least invasive therapy to achieve the best outcome with the fewest side effects.
We typically recommend minimally invasive surgery or precisely targeted radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer. Robotic surgery offers a range of benefits over open surgery and is performed by the area’s most experienced surgeons who strive to preserve urinary and erectile function. We know your quality of life after treatment is valued as much as your longevity and so we offer approaches that include nerve-sparing surgery.
In addition, our participation in clinical trials give many men access to the next generation of therapies months and even years before they become widely available — a benefit not all hospitals can offer.
Our team of experienced urologic oncology specialists works together to treat each patient’s prostate cancer including:
- urologic oncologists
- radiation oncologists
- medical oncologists
- robotic surgeons
- pathologists who specialize in the male urinary tract and reproductive system
Unlike other cancers, prostate cancer offers a wide range of effective and safe treatment options. Our doctors tailor treatments to your particular needs and conditions, and take into consideration many factors including:
- overall health
- size of the initial tumor
- whether the cancer has spread (metastasized)
In addition to robotic prostate surgery and targeted prostate radiation, other prostate cancer treatments include prostate cryotherapy and prostate hormone therapy.
If you’re older and have a lower-risk case, our experts may recommend active surveillance, or watchful waiting — regularly monitoring your prostate for further change but taking no further steps. Doing so can avoid the possible side effects of treatment.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
In the early stages, there are no noticeable symptoms of prostate cancer. But the disease can cause you problems as it grows including the following:
- urination problems such as pain, burning, difficulty stopping or starting, weak flow and/or increased frequency
- difficulty getting or maintaining erections
- painful ejaculation
- blood in the urine or semen
- frequent pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
- loss of appetite or weight
Other conditions such as infection or enlargement of the prostate can also cause these symptoms so see your MedStar Health doctor as soon as possible to identify the cause of your problem and get treatment if needed.
Prostate Cancer Risks
Some men face a higher risk of prostate cancer if they have some of the following risk factors:
- age 50 or older
- closely related to others who have had the disease, or to several women who have had breast cancer (5 to 10 percent of prostate cancers are hereditary)
- a carrier of the BRCA2 gene
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Screening
Your doctor will ask for a complete medical history and perform a thorough physical examination when you undergo a prostate screening. There are two standard screening tests for prostate cancer:
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)
PSA is a protein found in semen, with small amounts making their way to the blood. High levels can indicate cancer or another prostate problem, though not always. The blood test can take place during regular physicals, an option you should talk to a doctor about starting at age 50. Men at higher risk should discuss doing so as early as age 40.
Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)
Your doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to examine the prostate gland and note its size and shape, as well as any irregularities.
Ultrasound is often used if screenings raise any issues and is frequently paired with a biopsy to test tissue.