In the United States, prostate cancer is the most common solid organ cancer that affects men. Every year in the US, more than180,000 new cases are diagnosed and about 26,000 men die from prostate cancer. Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly and may never cause any symptoms. Many men with prostate cancer will die of other causes rather than from prostate cancer. However, some men will have aggressive prostate cancer that grows rapidly and can spread outside the prostate gland if untreated.
Prostate cancer usually does not cause symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. It can cause difficulty with urination, blood in the urine, or skeletal pain if it has spread to the bones. The spine, pelvis, and ribs are the bony structures that are commonly affected by the spread of prostate cancer.
Physicians may suspect prostate cancer based on the results of a blood test called PSA (prostate specific antigen) and a digital rectal examination. If the results of these are suspicious, further tests may be conducted to try and determine if prostate cancer is present. A prostate biopsy is usually done to make the diagnosis of prostate cancer. Since prostate cancer can be fatal and often presents without symptoms, many doctors offer prostate cancer screening. The American Urologic Association (AUA) recommends that men between the ages of 55 and 70 speak to their physician regarding the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening. Men who are at an increased risk of prostate cancer based on family history and ethnicity may be screened at an earlier age. Men above the age of 70 can also be screened for prostate cancer but should first speak to their physician regarding the benefits of this.
Prognosis for prostate cancer is generally good for many men but depends on the stage and grade of the cancer. Treatment for prostate cancer can be active surveillance, curative treatment, or palliative care. Active surveillance is usually reserved for men with low risk prostate cancer. Curative treatment usually includes surgery, radiation, cryotherapy, or a combination of these. Palliative care is usually reserved for those patients with metastatic disease.
Doctors at The Men’s Clinic at UCLA can help you decide if prostate cancer screening is right for you. Your evaluation will consist of a full history and physical exam during which you will be asked regarding family history of prostate cancer, lifestyle, and environmental risks. A physical exam is a key component to diagnosing prostate cancer as an abnormal DRE can provide your physician with valuable information. Blood work may also be necessary. Your doctor may also recommend imaging studies and a biopsy. If a diagnosis of prostate cancer is made, our men’s health experts at UCLA are there for you every step of the way.
Board-certified urologists staff The Men’s Clinic at UCLA and you can be assured you are getting an experienced physician performing your evaluation and treatment in a relaxed and comfortable environment. For more information and to schedule an appointment, please call the UCLA Urology Appointment line at (310) 794-7700.