Overview

Prostate Cancer is the most common form of non-skin cancer in American men.  At the John and Carol Walter Center for Urological Health, our multidisciplinary team of experts offers men the full range of management options and helps them navigate the complex decision making process involved with prostate cancer treatment.

There are no symptoms associated with early stage prostate cancer, which is why men need to be examined and have a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test done regularly to detect the disease in its earliest stages when it is most likely still curable. Men with a family history of the disease as well as African American men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

As they age, many men may experience weak or interrupted flow of urine, frequent urination (especially at night) or difficulty urinating.  This is usually due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and not prostate cancer.

An elevated PSA is the most sensitive test to detect early prostate cancer. PSA is a protein that is produced almost exclusively in the prostate. An elevated level of PSA in the blood may also occur because of BPH, infection or prostatic inflammation, and may also occur following sexual activity, an examination, or urological instrumentation. Men with an elevated PSA should see a urologist for further evaluation, which may include a biopsy of the prostate to determine whether or not they have prostate cancer. Most men who have an elevated PSA are found on further evaluation not to have prostate cancer.

If a diagnosis of prostate cancer is made, clinical information including the PSA, clinical stage and grade of the cancer can be used to guide a patient’s treatment.

Why NorthShore

The Walter Center offers an integrated team of cancer specialists and support staff working together to provide comprehensive, patient-centered care. Patients can see multiple specialists in a single location and leave with an individualized care plan.

Physicians at the Walter Center work with patients diagnosed with prostate cancer to identify a variety of treatment options based on individual clinical characteristics as well as the patient’s personal preference based on their quality-of-life priorities. Our multidisciplinary team includes surgical oncologists (board-certified urologists specially trained to surgically treat urologic cancers). Our team includes two fellowship-trained surgeons, Kristian Novakovic, MD, and Sangtae Park, MD, who have extensive expertise in robotic surgery to treat prostate cancer, and who frequently operate together to achieve the best outcomes for our patients.

Active surveillance is the preferred treatment option recommended by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for men over age 65 with early stage prostate cancer. The Walter Center has the premier and largest IRB-approved prostate cancer active surveillance program in the Midwest. In addition, NorthShore is the coordinating medical center for all of the NCI-funded active surveillance prostate cancer programs across the United States.

The Walter Center has a dedicated prostate cancer research team of 20 clinicians and scientists who are conducting clinical studies and translational research in order to continuously improve prostate cancer care. Our discoveries have been widely published and presented at national medical meetings.

Treatment

Any treatment for prostate cancer can cause serious side effects.  At the Walter Center, patients are educated on a wide variety of options and in consultation with their physician are empowered to choose a treatment choice that is best for them. The Walter Center’s William D. and Pamela Hutul Ross Clinic for Sexual Health enables men and women to overcome the risks to sexual health associated with urological diseases and to recover sexual function following treatment.

Treatment for prostate cancer may include:

  • Active Surveillance follows older men with early stage prostate cancer without treatment, instituting treatment only if and when their disease progresses. Patients are monitored for possible cancer growth with regular examinations, PSA testing, PCA3 urine tests, and periodic biopsies. If at any point a trial participant’s cancer has progressed, patients are advised to undergo treatment and again presented with treatment options based on their age, overall health, and individual preferences. Active surveillance is the preferred treatment option recommended by the NCI for men over age 65 with early stage prostate cancer. Learn More »
  • Radical Prostatectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a cancerous prostate and certain surrounding tissue.  The surgery may be performed as an open surgery or by leading-edge robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery. For most patients, this minimally invasive approach results in significantly less pain, less blood loss, shorter recovery periods and a quicker return to normal daily activities. Learn More »
  • External Beam Radiation Therapy uses a computer controlled linear accelerator to deliver ionizing radiation that precisely conforms to a three dimensional (3-D) tumor or target volume by controlling the intensity of the radiation beam and thus sparing the surrounding normal tissue. As a result, higher radiation dose can be delivered to the tumor without risking damage to normal tissue.  Proton external beam therapy uses protons rather than X-rays as the source of ionizing radiation. Although proton beam therapy theoretically causes less side effects, results to date indicate no advantage in terms of cancer care, and major side effects, such as rectal bleeding, may be increased when compared to conventional external beam radiation therapy. Learn More »
  • Interstitial Brachytherapy involves the surgical implantation of small radioactive seeds directly into the prostate gland. These radioactive seeds release radiation over time to the prostate and minimize dose to surrounding normal tissue. Compared to external beam techniques like IMRT and IGRT, however, the radiation dose distribution often varies and can result in areas of significant under-dosage within the prostate.  Because of generally inferior results, we usually do not recommend interstitial brachytherapy in the treatment of prostate cancer. Learn More »
  • Hormonal therapy uses medications to decrease the production of testosterone, the male hormone that helps prostate cancer cells to grow and thrive. Treatment typically consists of an injec­tion of medication every three to four months. An oral medication that further blocks the effect of testosterone is often also given during the first month of hormonal therapy. Hormonal therapy is most often recommended for men with advanced stage prostate cancer. Learn More »

Other treatment options exist, including cryosurgery, high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) therapy, photodynamic therapy, and laser prostatectomy. However, there is less experience with these alternative therapies, and they are generally not recommended as primary treatment options.

For More Information

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 847.503.3000.

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