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What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common kind of cancer in men. The risk rises with age and is the most common type of cancer in older men. About 20 percent of men will receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer at some point in their lives—about 1 out of every 5 men. A healthy prostate is small—about the size of a walnut.

What are some signs and symptoms of prostate cancer?

Common signs and symptoms of prostate cancer are trouble urinating or weak streams of urine. However, prostate cancer has many signs and symptoms—some of which could be cancer but can resemble signs and symptoms of other health conditions. So, you might want to check with your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Dribbling while urinating
  • Having to urinate often—especially at nighttime
  • Inability to empty the bladder completely while urinating
  • Blood in your semen or urine
  • Burning or pain while urinating
  • Pain that doesn’t go away in the hips, pelvis, or back
  • Racing heartbeat, extreme tiredness, dizziness, shortness of breath or pale skin

How is Prostate Cancer Screened, Diagnosed, and Treated?

In the United States, doctors often conduct a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to screen for prostate cancer. Even though the test is common, it has a few drawbacks, such as overdiagnosis.

That’s why it’s probably a good idea to have a chat with your doctor about the risks and benefits before having this—or any other—test done.

Other screening options are palpation, in which the doctor sticks a finger into your anus to get a sense of the size, hardness, and texture of your prostate. This procedure is also called a digital rectal exam, or DRE. Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) describes a procedure that uses sound waves to detect how large your prostate is and its shape. Magnetic resonance image (MRI) is a technique that allows doctors to see an image of your prostate gland.

Regardless of what technique your doctor uses to look for abnormal tissue in your prostate, the only way your doctor can figure out if you actually have prostate cancer is by doing a biopsy, or tissue sample. This procedure involves removing a small amount of tissue from the prostate and looking at it under a microscope to see if any of the cells are abnormal or cancerous.

Treatment options

If you have prostate cancer, the treatment plan your doctor designs for you may include one or more of the following:

  • Chemotherapy 
  • Radiation therapy (using either the TrueBeamTM Linear Accelerator or CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System)
  • Minimally invasive surgery (using the da Vinci®Surgical System)

Capital Health also participates in various clinical trials that offer patients the very latest in cancer care while giving physicians and researchers the opportunity to study the effectiveness of the treatment.