Uncommon Treatment for a Common Enemy
Prostate Cancer Care at Allegheny Health Network
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men over the age of 60 (besides skin cancer), and it also one of the most successfully treated if detected early. In fact, more than 2 million men in the US count themselves as prostate cancer survivors.
While any diagnosis of cancer may sound scary, our patients at the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute receive expert, high quality care, including an innovative new procedure called fusion biopsy.
To better coordinate your personalized treatment plan, our cancer care team, along with your 24/7 Care Navigator, will help support your greatest challenges – helping you better manage your emotions while listening to your concerns to help strengthen your overall well-being.
Click on the links below to learn more about symptoms and how we diagnose and treat prostate cancer at the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute.
Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Early prostate cancer usually doesn’t cause symptoms, however, more advanced cancers can cause the following issues:
- Problem urinating, including a slow or weak stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night.
- Blood in the urine or semen and trouble getting an erection.
- Pain in the hips, back, chest or other areas where cancer may have spread.
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord.
Some of these symptoms may not be caused by cancer (for example, trouble urinating can be caused by benign hyperplasia – BPH) so it’s important to see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
As part of your diagnosis, your doctor may order a complete medical history (including family history) and physical exam. This might include a digital rectal exam (DRE), during which the doctors gloved, lubricated finger is inserted into your rectum to feel for any bumps or hard areas on the prostate that might be cancer. The DRE can tell if cancer is only on one or both sides of the prostate and if it’s likely to have spread.
Whether you are symptom free or have some symptoms, a prostrate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test is routinely used by doctors to screen for prostate cancer. If your PSA levels are moderate, between 4 and 10 nanograms per millimeter there is a 25% chance cancer is present. If the PSA level is over 10 there is a 50% chance while below 4 there is typically only a 15% or less chance that cancer is present.
At the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute, we additionally provide advanced and highly sophisticated screening and diagnostic testing to better manage prostate cancers and give you a prompt diagnosis and treatment plan.
Our advanced diagnostic tests for prostate cancer include:
- Transrectal ultrasound. This procedure finds abnormalities in the rectum and nearby tissues, including the prostate using a probe that send out high-energy sound waves that form a picture of surrounding body tissue.
- Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan). Using a combination of X-rays and a computer, this procedure produces cross-sectional, horizontal and vertical images (often called slices) that show details of the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Using powerful magnets and radio waves, MRIs create detailed images of organs and specific areas within the body.
- Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography (PET) scan. This advanced imaging technique combines the functional activity of PET with the structural anatomy of CT for cancer staging and radiation treatment planning.
Treating Prostate Cancer
At the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute, our team of doctors and surgeons, and radiation and medical oncologists, ensure that you have access to the highest quality of care available, including every possible treatment, procedure and clinical trial best suited to improve and support your overall well-being.
Our extensive treatment options for prostate cancer include:
The Cancer Institute's expert surgeons utilize the latest techniques and technologies and are among the most experienced in the country. This expertise ensures the best possible outcome from your treatment, while minimizing the possible risk of complications, overall recovery time, and impact to your health.
Our advanced surgical options for prostate cancer include:
- Fusion biopsy. This procedure fuses the precise scan made by an MRI with a live image produced by ultrasound, enabling a doctor to better guide a needle directly to the lesion being examined.
- Polypectomy. Using a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end, the doctor guides a tiny, wire loop or scissor-like tool into the colon to remove the polyp.
- Colectomy. This procedure removes the cancerous area of the colon that’s associated with the lymph nodes. Typically, the surgeon then rejoins the parts of the colon.
- Laparoscopic/minimally invasive/robotic surgery. This surgery involves the use of tiny instruments and robotic devices to surgically remove the portion of the colon and/or tissue that contain cancer cells. This highly sophisticated technology allows surgeons to see the targeted anatomy in high magnification, brilliant color and with a natural depth of field, this allowing them to make tiny incisions. Much less invasive than traditional surgery, it reduces recovery time and minimizes residual pain and scarring.
- Endoscopic mucosal resection. This procedure can be used if the cancer is small and only on the surface of your colon. A needle is placed into the colon wall and the surgeon injects a saline solution to form a bubble under the lesion. Using suction, the lesion is removed.
- Transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM). A minimally invasive procedure using specially designed microsurgical instruments, this surgery involves the removal of select tumors and cancers through the rectum, eliminating the need for an incision.
- Sphincter-preservation rectal surgery. This advanced reconstructive surgery allows for the removal of tumors without impacting the sphincter, which can avoid the need for a permanent colostomy.
Here at the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute we use state-of-the-art technology, including advanced computer software and imaging, to administer high–dose radiation beams directly to a tumor, minimizing your overall exposure.
As the only radiation oncology network accredited in western Pennsylvania by both the American Society for Radiation Oncology and American College of Radiology, you can feel assured knowing you are receiving the highest quality care available. This accreditation means that the Cancer Institute at Allegheny Health Network meets specific guidelines for patient safety, quality control, and efficiency of equipment.
Our advanced radiation treatments for prostate cancer include:
- Image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT). The procedure uses frequent imaging to delivery precise and accurate radiation therapy. With this technology, physicians can image a tumor immediately before or during radiation treatment, making necessary adjustments as needed for precise tumor targeting and minimal harm to surrounding healthy tissue.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). This therapy uses sophisticated computer technology to map the precise dimensions and density of cancerous tumors. Afterward, virtual treatment simulations are performed, and with minimal harm to surrounding healthy tissue, the radiation dose's shape and intensity is conformed to the simulation's exact parameters.
- Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT). This technique combines the precision of image guidance, the accuracy of IMRT, and motion management (4-D CT and Anzai respiratory gating) to deliver high doses of radiation in less than five treatments. This technique was pioneered at Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute and has dramatically improved our ability to control tumors.
The department of Medical Oncology specializes in the care and diagnosis of patients with a variety of medicines, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapy. Medicines are administered by mouth (oral) or by vein (intravenous) depending upon the treatment plan developed by your primary doctor or medical oncologist. Throughout your care, your doctor will coordinate your medication needs and your 24/7 Care Navigator may also be a part of this coordinated care effort.
The Cancer Institute’s advanced medical oncology therapies for prostate cancer include:
- Chemotherapy. Similar in the same way that antibiotics kill bacteria, chemotherapy kills cancer cells. Because of the potency of these drugs, and their ability to sometimes also damage normal cells, side effects can occur, including hair loss, nausea and lowered blood counts. Fortunately, your body’s normal cells repair themselves much better than cancer cells. Throughout your treatment, we carefully monitor your wellness and determine medication requirements that can reduce side effects and maximize the chemotherapy’s effectiveness. Chemotherapy can be given to patients intravenously through a vein in the arm or through an implanted venous catheter, such as mediport, or orally through a pill.
- Targeted therapy. This therapy is less toxic, and in some cases, more effective than traditional chemotherapy. It works by attacking specific genes within the surrounding blood vessels that help cancer to grow.
- Immunotherapy. This form of biological therapy is designed to help your immune system fight your cancer better. Working to enhance immune system function at the cellular level, immunotherapy utilizes cancer vaccines, genetically engineered human immune stimulatory molecules, and monoclonal antibodies (cloned antibodies from healthy cells used to support the immune system to help it fight cancer).
- Adjuvant therapy. This treatment is given after surgery to reduce the chance of residual microscopic cancer cells remaining in your body. It may include chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
- Neoadjuvant therapy. This treatment is given before surgery and may include chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. It may reduce the amount of tumor remaining at the time of surgery, allowing for a more conservative operation.