What You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer

The facts about prostate cancer.

When most of us hear the word cancer, the first thing we think is, “Boy, I’m sure glad it’s not me.” But, The National Cancer Institute estimates that over 250,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020. For these men, they have to accept cancer as part of their lives. How do you know if you are one of these men with prostate cancer or not?

A man with prostate cancer may not have any symptoms. For men who do have symptoms, the common symptoms include:

  • Urinary problems
  • Not being able to pass urine
  • Having a hard time starting or stopping the urine flow
  • Needing to urinate often, especially at night
  • Weak flow of urine
  • Urine flow that starts and stops
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Frequent pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer; they may be caused by another health problem. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated.

“The challenge is that most prostate cancers have no symptoms until it gets to the point that it is no longer curable,” says Dr. Jeff Ferguson, urologist. “That is why screening is so important. We recommend that men have a yearly PSA and digital rectal exam. Most leading urologists believe that PSA tests are an important tool in screening for prostate cancer and are very useful when interpreted correctly.”

A PSA is a blood test for prostate-specific antigen. A lab checks the level of PSA in your blood sample. The prostate makes PSA and prostate cancer may cause a high PSA level.

Once a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, he and his doctor have a variety of options to explore to determine the best course of treatment. Options include radiation, radioactive seeds or surgery. Surgical options have improved over the years where most procedures are done using minimally invasive techniques. This means that surgeries are performed through small incisions, which replace the large incisions needed for conventional open surgeries.

Surgeons at Penrose Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center are now using the da Vinci® Surgical System to perform minimally-invasive robotic assisted prostatectomies. Benefits of robotic assisted surgery include smaller incisions, less pain and trauma for patients, and a much faster recovery period.

“Because it is less invasive, more and more men who previously may have chosen radiation treatment are now electing to have surgery,” says Ferguson. “It has also opened up options for older patients who might not have been a candidate for a traditional surgery. The bottom line is that robotic assisted surgery has made surgery a viable choice for more men.”

By enhancing surgical capabilities, da Vinci Surgery offers a number of potential benefits, including:

  • Less pain following the operation
  • Less risk of infection
  • Less anesthesia
  • Less blood loss
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster and more complete recovery
  • Quicker return to normal daily activities

“Most of my patients return to normal physical activity in four to six weeks,” says Ferguson.

Most people are candidates for robotic assisted surgery, but it may not be right for everyone. Only you and your doctor can decide whether surgery is right for you. Before making your decision, you should make sure you are aware of all the options available to you.

Please talk to your primary care physician to schedule your annual screenings.