Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men after skin cancer. And it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men, according to the American Cancer Society. The good news is that the survival rate for prostate cancer is improving, likely because the disease is being detected earlier.

UF Health Jacksonville’s multidisciplinary team of genitourinary cancer specialists includes board-certified, fellowship-trained urological oncologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, radiologists and pathologists. These experts work together to develop individualized treatment plans that best meet the needs of their patients.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a gland that makes a secretion called prostate-specific antigen or PSA. The PSA thins the ejaculate, or semen, which allows it to flow more freely. The prostate also contains enzymes that change testosterone to a form more easily used by the body.

Risk Factors and Symptoms

There is no specific cause of prostate cancer that we know of, but researchers have identified some major risk factors, including:

  • Age – A man’s chance of getting prostate cancer increases after age 50. Nearly two out of three prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65.
  • Race – Prostate cancer is more common among black men. Prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites.
  • Family history – Men with immediate family members who have had prostate cancer are more likely to get it themselves, especially if the relatives were young at the time of diagnosis.
  • Diet – Men who eat a lot of red meat or have a diet high in fat may have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Men who eat fewer fruits and vegetables may also be at a higher risk.

How can I avoid developing prostate cancer?

There is no surefire way to prevent prostate cancer. However, annual screenings are the best way to detect the disease in its early stages and minimize the risk of developing an incurable cancer.

Additionally, men who live a healthy lifestyle and eat a healthy diet tend to do better during the treatment process and are less likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancers.

Screening for Prostate Cancer

Early detection increases the chances of surviving prostate cancer. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends that men have yearly screenings beginning at age 45. Screenings should consist of a digital rectal exam as well as a PSA blood test.

How is prostate cancer detected?

Prostate cancer has no symptoms until it is in its advanced stages. At that point, men may find it difficult to urinate and have blood in the urine or semen. The following tests are used to detect prostate cancer:

  • A PSA blood test can determine if the body is more likely to harbor prostate cancer
  • A digital rectal exam is used to detect abnormalities in the prostate
  • If either of these tests is abnormal, a prostate biopsy is performed to detect prostate cancer

Treatment Options

Prostate cancer that is clinically localized or has not spread outside the prostate can be treated the following ways:

  • Radical prostatectomy – Removal of the prostate. This may be performed in a minimally invasive way, such as laparoscopically or using a robot, or through a traditional, larger incision.
  • Radiation therapies – External beam (radiation focused on the prostate from outside the body) or brachytherapy (radioactive seeds placed in the prostate through the skin) are options. One form of external-beam radiation - proton therapy - allows for highly precise targeting of the radiation, thus lowering the risk of damage to healthy tissue surrounding the prostate. This means better quality of life for patients undergoing proton therapy prostate cancer treatment and less risk of side effects.
  • Cryotherapy – The prostate is frozen and rapidly thawed using needles placed through the skin.

For patients who have prostate cancer that has already progressed outside of the prostate, medications are available that limit the body’s production of, or ability to, use androgens (hormones that help prostate cancer growth). For prostate cancers that no longer respond to hormonal therapies, there are chemotherapeutic and other agents that attack prostate cancer cells throughout the body.

More on Cryotherapy More on Robotic Surgery More on Proton Therapy

Related Services

UF Health Jacksonville offers the following services related to prostate cancer: