Prostate cancer is the uncontrolled abnormal growth of cells in the prostate gland, a walnut-sized organ found in the male reproductive system. The prostate is located just under the bladder and in front of the rectum, the lower part of the bowel.

Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly, although in some cases prostate cancer can grow and spread rapidly. Preceded only by lung and colorectal cancer, prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in men. Although one man in 6 will get prostate cancer during his lifetime, only 1 in 32 will die of the disease.

Prostate cancer is rare in men under 50, but its prevalence increases with age. Autopsies show that many elderly men who have died from other causes or disease also had prostate cancer that neither they nor their doctor were aware of.

Your Care at Winship

Our prostate cancer program offers cutting edge treatment for prostate cancer patients in Georgia and the Southeast.

The Winship prostate cancer and genitourinary cancer teams include urologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, advanced practice nurses and social workers. They work together to provide the most appropriate individualized approach to treating prostate cancer patients. The prostate cancer program is located at Winship Cancer Institute and Winship at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital.

Our collaborative approach to care offers a number of benefits to our patients, including:

  • Access to nationally and internationally renowned as well as community-based experts in prostate cancer.
  • Weekly review of patient cases by the full team of experts.
  • Coordinated scheduling for appointments among various specialties.
  • Access to a nurse navigator to assist you throughout the treatment process.
  • Access to support programs and groups for you and your caregivers.
  • Availability of new treatment options within our clinical trials program.

Diagnosing Your Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate gland, a walnut-sized organ found only in men. Although the prostate is made up of several cell types, almost all prostate cancers develop in the glandular cells. Cancer of gland cells is known as adenocarcinoma.

Most men will not experience any symptoms of prostate cancer if it is caught early. However, some men do, and these symptoms may include the following:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

Men who experience any of these symptoms should speak to their doctor.

These are some of the tests that may be used to confirm a diagnosis:

  • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Tests: a blood test is used to assess the level of PSA in the blood. A higher-than-normal level of PSA might indicate a problem with the prostate, including cancer.
  • Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): a physician inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities of the prostate.
  • An abnormal age-adjusted prostate specific antigen (PSA) test or abnormal digital rectal (DRE) exam is an indication of prostate cancer, but does not mean cancer is present. Abnormal findings should be followed by a biopsy of the prostate cells to determine whether they are in fact cancerous.
  • Biopsy: a biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of tissue is taken from the prostate and then viewed under a microscope to check for abnormalities.
  • Prostate Health Index (phi): still being studied, phi is a new, more precise blood test that better distinguishes an aggressive cancer from a low-risk cancer.

For recurring prostate cancer patients, we are currently offering a new clinical trial that allows physicians to better locate the site of recurrence which in turn can provide you with a more tailored treatment option. The technique, called FACBC, uses positron-emission tomography (PET). To learn more, please ask your physician or read our brochure.

In addition to delivering the highest quality medical care, we recognize the importance of the psychological and emotional aspects of living with a cancer diagnosis and of dealing with treatment. Our supportive oncology team addresses these issues in a timely manner with additional support from counselors, nurse navigators, dietitians and social service professionals.