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,
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
- 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
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
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
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
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.
– 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 Robotic Surgery
More on Proton Therapy
UF Health Jacksonville offers the following services related to prostate cancer: