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Norris Cotton Cancer CenterNorris Cotton Cancer Center
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About Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is diagnosed in more than 200,000 men each year in the US. It is estimated that there will be more than 27,000 deaths from prostate cancer in the US in 2015.

Prostate cancer varies in its behavior; it is generally indolent and slow-growing, but it can also be progressive and fatal.

Statistics from the National Cancer Institute show that about one of every six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, but virtually all will survive for at least five years.

Diagnosis

There are ongoing controversies regarding best methods of screening for and diagnosing prostate cancer. We offer detailed consultations with men regarding their risk, including "shared decision-making" regarding the option of prostate biopsy, and review of varied diagnostic tests that may contribute additional information (e.g., blood, urine, imaging tests). See a review of prostate cancer screening and diagnostic tests for prostate cancer.

Potential treatments

Prostate cancer that is localized to the prostate can be treated in one of three general ways:

  • Surgery - The entire prostate is surgically removed
  • Radiation - External radiation (beam) or implanted radioactive "seeds" are used to destroy the tumor
  • Observation - Watchful waiting (monitoring of symptoms only) or active surveillance (more intensive monitoring with PSA tests and follow-up biopsies)

Prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate can be treated by:

  • Hormonal Therapy - Reducing the effect of the male hormone testosterone
  • Chemotherapy - Oral or intravenous drug therapy
  • Radiation - External radiation (beam) to kill tumors
  • Observation - Surveillance until there is active tumor growth

Treatment decisions can be complex and incorporate diverse considerations such as disease risk, patient preferences related to side effects, age and other health issues. As there are many considerations in deciding how best to treat prostate cancer, we employ a "shared decision-making" approach in which patients are educated about risks, benefits and alternatives regarding treatment, and patient preferences are candidly discussed. Many patients will opt for an "observational" approach rather than active treatment, such as "active surveillance," and the pros and cons of this approach are reviewed in detail with all patients.

More information

For more information about prostate cancer, we recommend the following links:

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