The fear of having prostate cancer can be devastating to men. However, it is most successfully treated when found early.
There are usually no specific signs or symptoms of early prostate cancer. A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) can provide the best chance of identifying prostate cancer in its earliest stages, but these tests can have drawbacks. Talk to your physician about whether prostate cancer screening is right for you.
Prostate Cancer Detection
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer seen at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. About 1000 patients each year are treated by our program, which is recognized internationally for its pioneering work in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.
Washington University physicians at Barnes-Jewish are responsible for groundbreaking work in several areas.
- Pioneering the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test as a tool for early prostate cancer detection.
- Conducting the world’s largest single-institution prostate cancer screening study with more than 32,000 men.
- Leading one of the largest randomized screening programs evaluating the long-term effects of prostate cancer screening.
- Successfully evaluating other diagnostic tests such as the free PSA test for improving the accuracy of prostate cancer detection.
With this large experience in early diagnosis, they frequently handle challenging cases in which a patient’s PSA level may be elevated, though initial biopsies do not reveal the cause for the elevation. They have developed specialized biopsy approaches using 3-D ultrasound guidance that may identify cancers missed by conventional approaches.
Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy
Siteman physicians use newer drugs, including new hormonal, chemotherapy, vaccines and biological therapies, to fight prostate cancer. Some of these therapies take away cancer cells’ ability to spread through new tissues or form new blood vessels. For patients who have failed standard therapy and are looking for investigational approaches, Siteman offers a range of clinical trials.
Our radiation oncologists were among the first in the United States to use 3-D conformal radiation therapy to enhance the delivery of high doses of radiation for prostate cancer. They can precisely aim treatment to the prostate, thereby reducing radiation delivery to the adjacent bladder and rectum. It is expected that the higher radiation dose delivered to the prostate with this technology will result in more frequent cures.
Siteman also was the first medical center in the region to perform brachytherapy, or radioactive seed implantation, for prostate cancer. In this technique, radiation oncologists insert small “seeds” containing radioactive material throughout the prostate under ultrasound guidance. The seeds emit radiation for several weeks then remain permanently and harmlessly in place.