Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Depending on your risk, the ACS suggests that men discuss when to begin screenings with their physician at the following ages::
- Men with average risk: talk with your physician about screenings at age 50.
- African Americans and men who have a first degree relative (father, brother or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65: begin these discussions with your physician starting at age 45.
- If more than one first-degree relative has had prostate cancer: these men are considered at even higher risk and should begin discussion at age 40.
After this discussion, those men who require or choose to have a screening will be tested via a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. If necessary, a digital rectal exam (DRE) may also be done as part of a screening.
Even if you have signs of early prostate cancer, your physician may recommend "active surveillance" or watchful waiting if it appears that the cancer is progressing slowly and unlikely to spread.
Navigating Your Treatment Options
Treatment for prostate cancer is as unique as each person who comes to Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) for care. Our physicians and their clinical team carefully and thoroughly evaluate each patient and each cancer. We listen carefully so that we can understand the needs of the patient and family and make sure we provide time for patients to ask questions and to get the answers they need. Working with patients, referring physicians and a multi-disciplinary team, we will give you clear, easy-to-understand information about your treatment options and develop a treatment plan that's right for you.
NGMC also offers a Patient Navigation Program to help guide you through every step of your cancer journey, from scheduling appointments and making decisions to receiving the emotional support you need.
Treatment for prostate cancer may include one or a combination of following types of treatment:
If your cancer is best treated through surgical removal of the prostate, The Cancer Center at NGMC offers both traditional and robotic prostatectomy. Click here to read a patient's perspective on his robotic prostatectomy procedure and recovery.
Our Radiation Therapy department offers the latest, state-of-the-art treatment technologies including therapies which deliver specific doses of radiation to highly targeted cells to minimize the risk of side effects. Some of these therapies include:
Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
Giving each patient the most effective radiation treatment requires excellent visualization of the prostate gland and the surrounding tissues. To allow the radiation oncology team to administer the highest possible precise dose of radiation to the targeted area, radiation oncologists insert small markers or fiducials into the prostate gland.
These markers give the clinical team an unchanging reference point for delivering each does of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), which is important because the prostate gland tends to move between treatment sessions. During each daily radiation treatment, new three-dimensional images reveal the fiducials so the therapist can position the patient to deliver radiation only to the affected area, minimizing damage to healthy tissues and side effects.
Low Dose Rate Brachytherapy (LDR)
Also known as "seed implants," this form of radiation therapy requires that a radiation source be permanently inserted into the patient. These "seeds" are inserted in an outpatient procedure and deliver radiation slowly, over a few days. LDR is an effective treatment and minimizes toxicities.
Chemotherapy or drug treatments may be ordered for advanced prostate cancer that has not responded to hormone treatment or other treatment options. It may also be given for cancer that has spread outside the prostate.
Chemotherapy causes the cancer to shrink and sometimes disappear. Even if the cancer does not disappear completely, chemotherapy can relieve pain and other discomforts caused by the cancer.
Chemotherapy may be given alone or in conjunction with radiation treatments.
Northeast Georgia Medical Center also provides other valuable resources to guide you through your cancer care and to answer questions after you have completed your treatment for prostate cancer. To learn more about our extensive support network from financial counseling to pastoral care, click here.
For more information about care care at NGMC, please call 770-219-8800.