The prostate cancer survival rate is exceptionally high. Because this cancer grows very slowly and responds well to treatment, the majority of patients are able to lead long and healthy lives. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for both localized cancer (that has not spread beyond the prostate) and regional cancer (that has not spread beyond nearby structures and lymph nodes) is nearly 100%. For advanced-stage diagnoses that number drops to 32%. Although at Moffitt, our prostate cancer treatment outcomes exceed 1.5 times the national average.
What is the most effective treatment for prostate cancer?
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) – A minimally invasive procedure, RFA uses ultrasound or another imaging technique to guide a needle electrode into the cancerous tumor. The electrode then emits high-frequency electrical currents to destroy cancer cells.
- Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy – During this procedure, a surgeon will remove the entire prostate. The surgeon will make a few small incisions and insert special instruments—one of which has a video camera attached—to complete the procedure.
- Robotic surgery – For certain procedures, surgeons can use robotic assistance, which can improve precision.
Some patients may also undergo radiation therapy after their surgery to eliminate any lingering cancer cells.
As with other cancers, prostate cancer has the most favorable survival rates when patients are diagnosed early. When prostate cancer is detected before it has spread to the lymph nodes (or other organs), it is most responsive to treatment and, therefore, more easily cured.
Detecting prostate cancer early
Thanks to advances in screening options for prostate cancer, it is very possible to detect this cancer early to improve a patient’s outlook. Prostate cancer screening is recommended for men ages 50 to 70, as well as younger men with risk factors, such as obesity or a family history of prostate cancer. The screening process typically involves a digital rectal examination (DRE), in which a physician inserts a gloved finger into the rectum, and a blood test called the prostate-specific antigen (PSA).
PSA is a protein produced by prostate tissue; cancerous cells emit more PSA than noncancerous cells. Therefore, an elevated PSA level in a blood test may indicate prostate cancer. However, this screening test is not infallible, as there are other, less-serious reasons for an elevated PSA level, such as prostate inflammation, a urinary tract infection, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or even the natural aging process. A physician will take other factors into account when evaluating a patient’s PSA levels and will recommend a biopsy if they suspect prostate cancer may be the cause.
Do you see a urologist for prostate cancer?
Often, if a physician suspects their patient has prostate cancer, they will refer them to a urologist for further evaluation. Urologists specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases of the urinary system, including prostate cancer. A urologist can conduct a biopsy to confirm a prostate cancer diagnosis. During the biopsy, a thin, hollow needle will be inserted into the prostate to collect a sample of prostate tissue. The needle may be inserted multiple times to collect several samples.
Within a few days, the urologist should have the diagnosis. If the biopsy is positive for prostate cancer, he or she will then stage the cancer and discuss the patient’s treatment options. Some patients with early-stage prostate cancer may be eligible for an “active surveillance” approach in which their condition will be monitored regularly. Treatment may be considered if the cancer begins to spread or cause symptoms.
Moffitt Cancer Center’s approach to prostate cancer treatment
No matter the stage of your cancer, Moffitt Cancer Center can help you improve your prognosis and quality of life. Not only do we have a dedicated Genitourinary Oncology Program staffed by surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and other support professionals who specialize in treating prostate cancer, but we also create individualized treatment plans for each of our patients. Our multispecialty team comes together in regular tumor board meetings to evaluate a number of different factors that can all affect a patient’s outcome—including the size, grade and location of tumors, along with any other treatments previously attempted—to develop the best possible plan for the patient’s unique situation.
At Moffitt, we welcome patients who have already received treatment elsewhere, as well as patients who are exploring their options for the very first time. Call 1-888-663-3488, or submit a new patient registration form online; a member of our team will tell you more about Moffitt’s prostate cancer survival rate and discuss your treatment options. We provide every new patient with rapid access to a cancer expert within a day, which is faster than any other cancer hospital in the nation.
Medically reviewed by Monica Chatwal, MD, medical oncologist, Genitourinary Oncology Program.