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Prostate Cancer

What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer of American men aside from skin cancer and the second deadliest, behind lung cancer. Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland, an organ of the male reproductive system located beneath the bladder, grow uncontrollably.

Signs and Symptoms

Early prostate cancer usually shows no symptoms. However, symptoms may include:

  • Problems urinating, especially at night
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pain in the hips, back, chest or other areas
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer

Screening and Diagnostic Tests

Screening occurs before a patient has experienced any symptoms and helps locate cancer at an early stage. If a screening test result is abnormal, diagnostic tests may be needed to rule out prostate cancer. These include:

  • During a digital rectal exam (DRE), your doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to examine the texture, shape or size of your prostate.
  • For a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test blood is drawn and analyzed for PSA, a substance naturally produced by your prostate. If higher-than-normal levels are found, it may indicate prostate infection, inflammation, enlargement or cancer.

Talking with your doctor

Urologists, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists are the most common physicians who treat cancer. However physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers, and other health and hospital professionals may be a part of your treatment team.

Some topics you might consider bringing up with a medical professional include:

  • Deciding on a treatment plan
  • The length of your recovery time
  • The possibility of becoming impotent or sterile
  • If you qualify for any clinical trials

Causes of Prostate Cancer

Cancer researchers do not know the exact causes of prostate cancer but they have discovered some factors that may lead to the development of prostate cancer:

  • Inherited or acquired gene mutations
  • Prostate inflammation
  • High cholesterol or triglyceride levels

Risk Factors of Prostate Cancers

Researchers have found several factors that might affect a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer. These include:

  • Age
  • Race/ethnicity/geography
  • Family history

However, most prostate cancer occurs in men without a family history of it.

Prevention of Prostate Cancer

Research is ongoing for how to prevent prostate cancer. A few ways that may reduce your chances include:

  • Eating fewer calories
  • Reducing red meat and dairy from your diet
  • Adding fish to your diet
  • Smoking cessation
  • Reducing stress and depression

Stages of Prostate Cancer

  • Stage I: Very early cancer confined to a small area of the prostate.
  • Stage II: Cancer may still be small but is now considered aggressive.
  • Stage III: Cancer has spread beyond the prostate to nearby tissues.
  • Stage IV: Cancer has invaded nearby organs or spread to lymph nodes, bones or other organs.

Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer

Working with your doctor will help determine which treatment option will be the best for you.


A radical prostatectomy is an in-patient procedure that requires the surgical removal of the prostate and its surrounding tissues.

Radiation therapy

The two primary types of radiation therapy used for prostate cancer are external beam radiation and brachytherapy (internal radiation).

Hormone therapy

The goal of hormone therapy, or androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) or androgen suppression therapy, is to reduce levels of androgens or stop them from affecting prostate cancer cells. Androgens, especially testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), stimulate prostate cancer cells to grow.

Hormone therapy alone does not cure prostate cancer.


While surgery and radiation therapy remove, kill, or damage cancer cells in a certain area, chemotherapy works throughout the whole body. This means chemotherapy can kill cancer cells that have spread to parts of the body far away from the original tumor.

Chemotherapy is not a standard treatment for early prostate cancer.

Prognosis of Prostate Cancer

When discussing patients with Stage I, II or III prostate cancer:

  • 99% of men will survive more than five years after a prostate cancer diagnosis
  • 98% will survive more than ten years
  • 95% of patients will survive more than 15 years.

The 5-year survival rate for Stage IV prostate cancer that has metastasized is about 28%.

Learn more about the Shawnee Mission Cancer Center.

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9100 West 74th Street
Shawnee Mission, Kansas 66204
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7820 W. 165th Street
Overland Park, KS 66223
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