Frequently Asked Questions about Prostate Cancer
Can prostate cancer by prevented?
There is no demonstrated way to prevent prostate cancer, but a healthy lifestyle may reduce your risk of prostate cancer. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, and reducing the amount of red meat in your diet.
Should all men be screened for prostate cancer?
Men should speak with their physicians about the benefits of screening in order to make an informed decision. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States. So screening for early detection makes sense for many men. African-American men and men who have a father or brother who was diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65 are at higher risk for developing prostate cancer. For these men, screening is highly recommended, generally in one’s early 40’s.
What are the risks of screening for prostate cancer?
There are no physical risks of having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or a digital rectal exam (DRE). These are key screening tools for prostate cancer.
Does a high PSA necessarily mean I have prostate cancer?
No. Above-normal PSAs can be indicative of inflammation or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or recent sexual activity rather than a sign of cancer.
Why is a digital rectal exam (DRE) important?
A DRE can uncover physical abnormalities of the prostate that may indicate cancer in the absence of an abnormal PSA.
If I am found to have prostate cancer must I be treated right away?
Prostate cancer is generally a slow-growing disease, so you have time to review your treatment options, including active surveillance, which is ongoing review of your PSA.
What does a biopsy of the prostate involve?
Small tissue samples of your prostate are obtained for microscopic review by inserting a needle into the prostate via the rectum. A transrectal biopsy, as it is commonly called, can take as little as 15 minutes and does not require sedation.
Is surgery the best treatment for prostate cancer?
Whether to treat and how to treat is a highly personal decision. Surgery to remove the prostate (radical prostatectomy) is often the route men who prefer to feel assured their cancer is out of the body. Other men feel more comfortable opting for radiation which is a non-invasive procedure. And active surveillance, if appropriate for your disease state, can delay surgery or radiation.
If my cancer has spread, what are my options for treatment?
Your doctor will work with you to determine the best treatment option for you. The following are utilized for metastatic prostate cancer (cancer that has spread beyond the prostate).
Hormone (Androgen Deprivation) Therapy
Hormone therapy, also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) or androgen suppression therapy, is used to lower levels of male sex hormones (known as androgens), which feed prostate cancer cells and cause them to grow. The main androgen is testosterone. This can be done using drugs, surgery, or other hormones. Lowering androgen levels can cause prostate cancers to shrink or grow more slowly, but does not cure cancer. ADT is often used for patients whose prostate cancer has spread beyond the prostate or has recurred after treatment.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer. There are many different types of chemotherapies used in different combinations. They are typically used when cancer that has spread beyond the prostate and hormone therapy isn’t working.
Therapeutic vaccines are designed to harness the body’s own immune system’s ability to attack cancer. One such vaccine, Provenge® (sipuleucel-T) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010 for advanced prostate cancer. Clinical trials, led by Mount Sinai researchers, were integral to the approval of Provenge® by the FDA.
In addition to standard treatments, other prostate cancer treatments are being investigated in clinical trials at Mount Sinai. Patients may want to consider taking part in a clinical trial when weighing treatment options. To find currently open clinical trials for prostate cancer, please visit the Clinical Trials and Research Studies area of our Web site.
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Bill Weinzimmer sought out Mount Sinai's expertise when he was faced with an advanced prostate cancer diagnosis. Learn more