Cancer Institute

Treatments

The Cancer Institute’s surgical, radiation and medical oncologists are leaders in all of the major treatment options for prostate and genitourinary cancer. Our main objective is to get rid of the cancer entirely. If that isn’t a viable option, then we aim at stopping the tumor from growing or spreading. The treatment used depends on the stage of the disease and your health, age, lifestyle and own preferences.

Surgery

The Cancer Institute’s skilled surgeons use the latest techniques and technologies. Their expertise ensures the best possible outcome from your treatment.

Our advanced surgical options include:

Prostate cancer

Nerve-sparing prostatectomy involves the removal of the entire prostate, the seminal vesicles (small sac-like organs attached to the back side of the prostate) and some surrounding tissue. In some cases, some lymph nodes are removed.

The majority of our prostate removal surgeries are performed in a minimally invasive way – via several small punctures rather than a large incision. When appropriate, our surgeons utilize a robot-assisted technique to remove the prostate. Known as the da Vinci robot, it gives the surgeon an excellent view and allows for very fine, precise movements.

Prostate cryosurgery is a minimally invasive treatment that involves freezing prostate cancer cells without removing the prostate. Surgeons use ultrasound images to guide small needles that contain a very cold gas into the prostate.

Genitourinary cancers

Advanced surgical and reconstructive procedures involve surgically removing the portion of the organ and/or tissue that contain cancer cells.

Laparoscopic/minimally invasive robotic surgery involves the use of tiny instruments and robotic devices to surgically remove the portion of the organ and/or tissue that contain cancer cells. The highly sophisticated technology allows surgeons to see the targeted anatomy in high magnification, brilliant color and with a natural depth of field while still only needing to make tiny incisions. This approach is much less invasive than traditional surgery, reducing recovery time, minimizing residual pain and scarring.

Radiation Therapy

With state-of-the-art technology and advanced computer software and imaging, our radiation oncologists can administer high-dose radiation beams directly to a tumor while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue and organs.

You can feel reassured that you are receiving the highest quality and safest radiation oncology care, as we are the country’s largest – and western Pennsylvania’s only – radiation oncology network accredited by both the American Society for Radiation Oncology and American College of Radiology. This means that the Cancer Institute meets specific practice guidelines and technical standards when it comes to patient care and treatment, patient safety, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality-control procedures and quality assurance programs.

Our advanced radiation treatments include:

Prostate cancer

Image-guided intensity modulated radiation therapy (IG-IMRT) is a non-surgical curative treatment for prostate cancer. It can be used alone or in combination with seed implant and/ or hormone deprivation to treat patients with various stages of prostate cancer.

IG-IMRT combines the ability of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) to precisely shape and distribute radiotherapy to your prostate with the ability of image guidance (IG) to track the prostate’s location for accurate delivery of the radiation. This technique allows our physicians to deliver high-dose radiotherapy to your prostate with minimal amount to yoursurrounding normal structures. In select patients, this technique can be utilized for microscopic tumor cells in the pelvic lymph nodes while limiting the amount of radiotherapy to the bowel and bladder.

Prostate seed implant (brachytherapy) is a minimally invasive technique that is used alone or in combination with IG-IMRT and/or hormone deprivation to treat patients with various stages of prostate cancer. Our physicians use computer and ultrasound guidance to implant approximately 60 to 100 rice-sized radioactive seeds into your prostate. These seeds deliver a continuous high dose of radiation directly to your prostate over several months. With this technique, the dose of radiotherapy is delivered accurately while sparing your bladder and rectum. It results in excellent cure rates.

Genitourinary cancers

Image-guided intensity modulated radiation therapy (IG-IMRT) is a non-surgical curative treatment that combines the ability of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) to precisely shape and distribute radiotherapy to the cancer with the ability of image guidance (IG) to accurately deliver the radiation. This technique allows our physicians to deliver high-dose radiotherapy to the cancer with minimal amount to the surrounding normal structures. In select patients, this technique can be utilized for microscopic tumor cells in the pelvic lymph nodes while limiting the amount of radiotherapy to the bowel and bladder.

Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) is a technique that combines the precision of image guidance, the accuracy of IMRT, and motion management (4-D CT and Anzai respiratory gating) to allow physicians to precisely deliver high doses of radiation in less than five treatments. This technique, which was pioneered at Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute, has dramatically improved our ability to control tumors that were not controllable in the past.

Medical Oncology

Medical oncologists treat patients with systemic therapy, which are drugs that spread throughout the body to eliminate cancer cells. They can be administered either by mouth (oral) or by vein (intravenous).

Our advanced therapies include:

Prostate Cancer

Hormone (androgen deprivation) therapy focuses on reducing levels of the male hormones (androgen) in the body, which makes prostate cancer shrink or grow more slowly. It can be used in men with advance prostate cancer when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This therapy is also used before radiation therapy to shrink the tumor, increasing the success of radiation and after radiation for a certain period of time to ensure a long-term control of the cancer.

Chemotherapy is the use of medicine to kill cancer. It can be given to you intravenously through a vein in the arm or through an implanted venous catheter, such as mediport, or orally through a pill.

Immunotherapy is a form of biological therapy designed to stimulate your own immune system to fight cancer. This can be done by engineering certain parts of your own immune system to drive the immune system to work harder or smarter to target and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy is sometimes used by itself, but it can also be used along with, or after, another type of treatment to boost its effects.

Bone strengthening therapy is the use of medicine to make your bones stronger to prevent fracture caused by cancer spreading to the bones. Or, it can delay the occurrence of cancer spread to the bones. This type of therapy involves intravenous infusion or subcutaneous injection of medicine periodically. It is typically used in conjunction with other therapies, such as hormone therapy or chemotherapy, among patients with, or at high risk of, cancer spreading to the bones.

Genitourinary cancers

Chemotherapy is the use of medicines that directly kills cancer cells, much like antibiotics kill bacteria. Side effects may occur such as hair loss, nausea or lowered blood counts because these medicines can damage normal cells as well. Fortunately, your body’s normal cells are more resilient and recover much better than cancer cells. We carefully monitor you and calculate your dose of chemotherapy maximize effectiveness and minimize side effects.

Immunotherapy is a form of biological therapy designed to stimulate your own immune system to fight cancer. This can be done by engineering certain parts of your own immune system to drive the immune system to work harder or smarter to target and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy is sometimes used by itself, but it can also be used along with, or after, another type of treatment to boost its effects.

Bone strengthening therapy is the use of medicine to make your bones stronger to prevent fracture caused by cancer spreading to the bones. Or, it can delay the occurrence of cancer spread to the bones. This type of therapy involves intravenous infusion or subcutaneous injection of medicine periodically. It is typically used in conjunction with other therapies, such as hormone therapy or chemotherapy, among patients with, or at high risk of, cancer spreading to the bones.

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