When a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, it means cancerous cells are present in the prostate, the small, walnut-sized gland that produces seminal fluid. The urologists and oncologists at University of Missouri Health Care are highly experienced in treating this common cancer.

Man on exam table

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among men, especially those who are 55 and older. Most men who have been screened and diagnosed with prostate cancer have a very good prognosis, and may not even need immediate treatment.

Our team confers with other treatment teams to provide second opinions when a diagnosis of prostate cancer has been given. We work closely with other specialty groups – such as medical oncology and radiation oncology – to develop a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan for each of our patients.

Picture prostate cancer statistics

Symptoms of prostate cancer

Most men who have prostate cancer are asymptomatic (have no symptoms). In advanced cases, a man with prostate cancer may have changes in urination patterns (needing to urinate more frequently or having the urge to urinate) or pain from the cancer having spread to the bones (metastasized).

Prostate cancer screening guidelines

The American Urological Association (AUA) recommends men 40-54 get screened for prostate cancer if they have a strong family history of the disease or are African American.

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Starting at age 55, all men should discuss screenings with their doctor, taking other medical problems into consideration. For those not in high risk categories, screenings may be done every other year to lower the risk of false positives and over diagnosis. 

Beginning at age 70, routine screenings are not recommended in men with a life expectancy of less than 10-15 years.

How prostate cancer is diagnosed

If your doctor suspects you may have prostate cancer, he or she will likely recommend the following to aid in diagnosis:

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Your doctor may order this blood test, which measures levels of PSA, a protein produced by the cells of the prostate. (See below for more information on this test.)
  • Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). Your doctor performs a physical examination of the prostate to assess for signs of cancer. (see below for more information on this test.)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) facilitated targeted biopsy. Your doctor uses the UroNav Fusion Biopsy System to obtain a biopsy (small sample) of the prostate for analysis. MU Health Care is the only facility in mid-Missouri to offer this leading-edge technology to help diagnose prostate cancer. The UroNav System is especially useful for those patients with previously negative biopsies and abnormal PSA level.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test

The MU Health Care team may use a PSA blood test for screening and assessment of the prostate. The PSA test may pick up cancer of the prostate before a man ever experiences symptoms.

There are advantages of detection by PSA screening.

  • Cancer is more likely to be localized and responsive to treatment.
  • Earlier diagnosis.
  • More likely to have more treatment options available.

Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)

Since prostate cancer is not the only condition that can elevate PSA results, we recommend men get a DRE in conjunction with a PSA to feel for growths in or enlargement of the prostate gland. A tumor in the prostate can often be felt as a hard lump. 

 

It is important to note many prostate cancer treatments may not help any individual patient and are associated with significant potential for complications. You should talk with your urologist at MU Health Care while weighing the pros and cons of undergoing DRE and a PSA test to check for prostate cancer.

Treatments for prostate cancer

MU Health Care offers a wide spectrum of treatment for prostate cancer. The treatment options available to each person depends on the type and progression of prostate cancer, as well as overall health.

The treatments we offer include:

  • Active surveillance. In some cases – especially when the cancer is diagnosed early – patients can delay or defer definitive treatment to avoid the side effects of therapy.
  • Brachytherapy. Also called “seed implant,” this treatment involves inserting radioactive implants directly into the tissue affected by the cancer.
  • External beam radiation therapy. Using intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), this type of radiation is highly targeted at the prostate and spares more of the surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Open or robot-assisted radical prostatectomy. When other treatments are unsuccessful, the prostate may need to be removed, either by traditional (open) surgery or using robotic equipment to assist in the procedure.

We also offer participation in research trials, in combination with medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, for some patients.