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Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is treated in our Prostate Cancer Program within the Upstate Cancer Center.

If you have questions about Prostate Cancer or would like to make an appointment, please call 315 464-5000.

We offer non-surgical and surgical options and deliver care with expertise in a patient-centered atmosphere. Men in Central New York and the surrounding area choose Upstate Urology to provide both time-tested and cutting edge treatments for their urologic problems.


Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the prostate gland. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland in men. It surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. The prostate makes a fluid that is part of semen.

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Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms, called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant growths. These growths can invade nearby tissues. Cancer that has invaded nearby tissues can then spread to other parts of the body.

It is not clear exactly what causes these problems in the cells, but it is probably a combination of genetics and environment.

Risk Factors

Prostate cancer is more common in men who are aged 55 and older. It is also more common among Black Americans. Other factors that may increase your chances of prostate cancer:

  • Family history of prostate cancer, especially father or brother
  • Family history of prostate cancer diagnosed at a young age
  • A high-fat diet


Prostate cancer may cause:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Inability to urinate
  • Weak or interrupted urine flow
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

These symptoms may be caused by other conditions, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or an infection. If you have any of these symptoms, promptly see your doctor.


A significant number of prostate cancers are found by a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) screening before symptoms develop.

Your doctor will ask about symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done.

Tests may include:

  • Digital rectal exam
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests

Imaging tests evaluate the prostate and surrounding structures. These may include:

The physical exam combined with all of your test results, will help to determine the stage of cancer you have. Staging is used to guide your treatment plan. Like other cancers, prostate cancer is staged from 1 to 4. Stage 1 is a very localized cancer, while stage 4 indicates a spread to other parts of the body.


Cancer treatment varies depending on the stage of prostate cancer. You and your doctor will discuss the best treatment options for you. Treatment may include:

Watchful Waiting

This involves your doctor monitoring the cancer to see if it is growing. Watchful waiting may be appropriate if you:

  • Have early stage prostate cancer that is growing slowly
  • Are of an advanced age
  • Have serious health problems where the risks of treatment outweigh the benefits


Types of surgery that may be needed include:

Since prostate cancer surgery may cause side effects, like erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence, there may be other surgery techniques that may be a good option for you. Some examples include nerve-sparing surgery, robotic surgery, and laparoscopic surgery.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy involves the use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Examples include:

  • Conformal radiation therapy—Conformal radiation therapy uses 3-dimensional radiation beams that are conformed into the shape of the diseased prostate. This treatment spares nearby tissue the damaging effects of radiation.
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)—IMRT uses radiation beams of different intensities to deliver higher doses of radiation therapy to the tumor and lower doses to nearby tissues at the same time.

Hormone Therapy

If prostate cancer has spread or has returned after being treated, hormone therapy may be used. The goal of hormone therapy is to lower the levels of male hormones called androgens. The main androgen is testosterone. Lowering androgen levels can cause prostate cancer to shrink or slow its growth.

Hormone therapy may include:

  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) analogs
  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) antagonists
  • Anti-androgens
  • Estrogen therapy—rarely used now unless other treatments are not working
  • Antifungal medications
  • Antineoplastic agents

In some case, a type of surgery called orchiectomy may be needed. This involves removing the testicles, which stops androgens from being produced.

Other Treatment Options

Other options may include:

  • Cryosurgery—this involves using an instrument to freeze and destroy prostate cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy—mainly used to relieve symptoms of metastatic cancer
  • Immunotherapy—a drug treatment that builds your immune system so that you can better fight cancer cells
  • Targeted therapies—focus on the cancer cells, rather than attacking both the cancer cells and the healthy cells
  • High-intensity focused ultrasound—an endorectal probe (a probe that is inserted into the rectum) is used to destroy cancer cells with ultrasound energy


To help reduce your chances of prostate cancer:

  • Eat a healthful diet. Your diet should be high in fruits, vegetables, and fish, and low in red meat.
  • Ask your doctor about taking certain medications. For example, daily aspirin therapy and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors may reduce your risk of prostate cancer.


  • Angiogenesis inhibitors. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy/angiogenesis-inhibitors-fact-sheet. Updated October 7, 2011. Accessed October 9, 2017.
  • Biological therapies for cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy/bio-therapies-fact-sheet. Updated June 12, 2013. Accessed October 9, 2017.
  • Chemotherapy & targeted therapy. Texas Oncology website. Available at: https://www.texasoncology.com/types-of-cancer/prostate-cancer/targeted-therapy-for-prostate-cancer. Accessed October 9, 2017.
  • Enzalutamide. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T904251/Enzalutamidw. Updated October 6, 2017. Accessed October 9, 2017.
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  • FDA approval for sipuleucel-T. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/drugs/fda-sipuleucel-t. Updated July 3, 2013. Accessed October 9, 2017.
  • Imatinib. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T232821/Imatinib. Updated October 6, 2017. Accessed October 9, 2017.
  • Prostate cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer.html. Accessed October 9, 2017.
  • Prostate cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/prostate-cancer. Updated August 9, 2016. Accessed September 14, 2016.
  • Prostate cancer screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/prostate-cancer-screening. Updated August 23, 2017. Accessed October 9, 2017.
  • Prostate cancer staging and imaging. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905769/Prostate-cancer-staging-and-imaging. Updated August 23, 2017. Accessed October 9, 2017.
  • What is provenge immunotherapy? Provenge website. Available at: http://www.provenge.com/advanced-prostate-cancer-immunotherapy. Accessed October 9, 2017.
  • 2/19/2010 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/prevention-of-prostate-cancer: Mahmud SM, Franco EL, et al. Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis. Int J Cancer. 2010;127(7):1680-1691.
  • 7/17/2017 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905769/Prostate-cancer-staging-and-imaging: Coakley FV, Oto A, et al. ACR Appropriateness Criteria for prostate cancer-pretreatment detection, surveillance, and staging. Available at: https://acsearch.acr.org/docs/69371/Narrative. Updated 2016.

Library resources related to prostate cancer.

For more information:

Internet Links
The detailed guide includes general information, causes, risk factors, prevention, early detection/diagnosis, treatments, talking with your doctor, "what's new in prostate cancer research?", and other resources and references.
The American Cancer Society provides answers for frequently asked questions relating to prostate cancer.
Learn about prostate cancer and the role genetics play in inherited risk for it from the National Human Genome Research Institute.
Information on prostate cancer from the Mayo Clinic.
Information on prostate cancer from the National Cancer Institute, includes information on: treatments, clinical trials, relevant reasearch, prevention, genetics, causes, and articles available from the PubMed database (a free database of medical articles curated by the National Library of Medicine).
Most men have time to learn about all the options for treating their prostate cancer. You have time to talk with your family and to discuss your options with your doctor or nurse. This guide can help you think about what is best for you—now and in the future.
Video Tutorials
Interactive online patient education tutorial from the National Library of Medicine.

American Prostate Society
National Cancer Institute
Prostate Cancer Foundation
Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett, c2009. viii, 240 p.
Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, c2007. viii, 134 p. :
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Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Clinic Press, c2008. vii, 110 p. :
Table of contents only
New Haven: Yale University Press, c2006. xiv, 280 p. :
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