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Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the United States and the second most common cause of cancer related death in the United States, behind lung cancer and just ahead of colorectal cancer. It is most common in African American men and least common in Asian American men. If you have a first or second degree relative who has had prostate cancer, you are at a higher risk to develop it.

Men should generally begin getting checked at age 50 unless they have a family history of prostate cancer or if they are African American, since those present a higher risk. We check men for prostate cancer with a blood test called PSA (prostate specific antigen) and with an examination of the prostate called a digital rectal exam (DRE). If one or the other is abnormal, we might recommend a biopsy of the prostate. You should note that a negative biopsy does not guarantee that a man does not have prostate cancer.

When the biopsy shows prostate cancer, decisions become complicated.

  • If the cancer has favorable characteristics, there is a reasonable likelihood for cure.
  • If the cancer has less favorable characteristics, the likelihood of cure is less, but certainly not zero.

The good news about prostate cancer is that it has a very long lifespan because it is so slow growing. This means that, even in the worst case scenario, men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer who cannot be cured often live many years of high quality life. It’s interesting to note that most men in the United States die with the disease, not from the disease. However, it is still a serious condition.

Making a Decision

A man who wants to be cured might have surgery or some form of radiation therapy. I perform the surgery, including robotic assisted surgery if indicated. A radiation oncologist performs the radiation therapy. In both cases, a man needs proper education to make an informed decision that is right for him. Because there is so much information and several options, making a decision can be difficult. Not all surgeons or radiation oncologists are equal. And even if they have fancy technology, the technology/treatment is only as good as the physician in charge. Many studies indicate that volume and experience matter. This is our field of expertise and we are here to help you. If this is something of interest to you, check out the links to begin your education: