Cyber Knife Center of Miami

What Is Prostate Cancer?

CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery has proven to be a highly successful treatment for prostate cancer. Treatments are shorter and less invasive and with CyberKnife, some or all of the more common side effects of traditional prostate cancer treatments are minimal.

Overview of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer generally occurs when the cells in the prostate gland grow abnormally or out of control. It is one of the most prevalent cancers for men.

Prostate cancer is typically a slow-growing cancer. Screening tests can identify most prostate cancers before symptoms develop and many forms of prostate cancer can be treated if detected early.

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among American men, but the prostate cancer survival rates are increasing thanks to improved detection methods and treatments, such as CyberKnife radiosurgery at the CyberKnife Center of Miami. With the CyberKnife, we can safely and effectively target the cancerous growth with precision and little or no side effects.

What Causes Prostate Cancer?

Unfortunately, the exact cause of prostate cancer is not always known. Some recent discoveries have linked prostate cancer to changes in DNA and also to high levels of certain male hormones.

Prostate cancer is not, however, linked to an enlarged prostate gland, a condition also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or benign prostatic hypertrophy. An enlarged prostate gland is not cancer and does not cause cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

The symptoms of prostate cancer are also the same type of symptoms shared by many non-cancerous conditions. Therefore, it is very important to have a doctor determine the source of the problem for men who experience changes in their urinary functions. It is also possible to have prostate cancer and not have prostate cancer symptoms.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms may include:

  • Problems with urination (most common)
  • Blood in your urine
  • Frequent or recurring bladder and kidney infections
  • Low back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bone pain and tenderness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia

How Is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose prostate cancer after reviewing your medical history and conducting a physical examination. You should tell your doctor about your symptoms and risk factors. The doctor will rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as an enlarged prostate gland or infection and will also conduct a few tests to help diagnose if you have prostate cancer.

Your doctor will perform a digital rectal examination to check the size and condition of your prostate gland. The vast majority of prostate cancers originate in the outer sections of the gland, which makes the digital rectal examination an excellent screening tool. A digital rectal examination can also help determine if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland.

If your doctor suspects that you have prostate cancer, more tests may be ordered such as blood tests, prostate biopsies or imaging studies. 

If you have prostate cancer, your doctor will assign your cancer a classification stage based on the results of all of your tests. Prostate cancer staging describes the size of the tumor, characteristics of its cells and if it has grown or metastasized. Prostate cancer staging is helpful to your doctor for treatment planning and recovery prediction. Always make sure you understand the staging system that your doctor is using.

What is a Gleason Score?


A preliminary prostate cancer diagnosis is based on results of blood screening tests (PSA) or symptoms, however, additional tests will be needed to confirm the actual diagnosis which can only be made through a prostate biopsy. 

Once you have the biopsy of your prostate, your doctor will explain the results using something called a Gleason Score or Grading system. This Grading system is used to evaluate the prognosis of men with prostate cancer using samples from the biopsy. This system was devised in the 1960’s by a Pathologist named Donald Gleason who realized that cancerous cells fall into 5 distinct patterns as they change from normal cells to tumor cells. The system assigns a Gleason grade based on how much the cancer looks like normal prostate tissue. 

           
If the cancer looks a lot like normal prostate tissue, a grade of 1 is assigned.
If the cancer looks very abnormal, it is given a grade of 5.
Grades 2 through 4 have features in between these extremes.

Most cancers are grade 3 or higher, and grades 1 and 2 are not often used.

Once the biopsy sample is taken, a pathologist will assign one Gleason grade to the most predominant pattern in your biopsy and a second Gleason grade to the second most predominant pattern. For example: 3 +4. The two grades will then be added together to determine your Gleason score (between 2 and 10). The higher the score, the more likely it is that the cancer will grow and spread quickly.

 If you have a Gleason Score above 5 and have been diagnosed with low to intermediate-risk prostate cancer, there are several treatment options available to you. Treatments include surgical removal of the prostate; prostatectomy, standard radiation that involves having 30-40 radiation treatments over several months, watchful waiting, or Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT).  At the CyberKnife Center of Miami we treat prostate cancer with non-invasive, SBRT that destroys prostate tumors with pinpoint accuracy, leaving healthy tissue unaffected. The treatment is done in just 5 sessions over 10 days without pain and no or minimal side effects. You can continue your daily activities without disturbing your lifestyle. A recent study evaluated the use of SBRT in low-risk prostate cancer 10 years post treatment showing that of the 230 men who participated in the study, 98.4 percent had local disease control 10 years after receiving treatment and their PSA levels remained very low which is associated with a reduced risk of cancer recurrence or metastases.

How Is Prostate Cancer Treated?

Treatment for prostate cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, your age and overall health. In select cases, men with very slow growing prostate cancer who are older or have other major health problems may forgo treatment initially. Instead, doctors closely monitor their cancer growth and symptoms.

For men who are at higher risk, traditional treatment routes include surgery, radiation therapy, cryosurgery, hormone therapy and in some cases chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, the side effects from these methods can be harsh and emotionally difficult for some men. The type of side effects that you experience may depend on the type of  prostate cancer treatment or combination of treatments that you receive. Side effects may include impotence, sterility, incontinence, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fatigue, low blood counts, an increased risk for infection and bleeding.

That’s why the CyberKnife is the treatment of choice for prostate cancer. Non-invasive with minimal side effects, the CyberKnife saves time and your quality of life throughout the process.

If you have prostate cancer, call CyberKnife Miami to see if you might be a candidate for robotic stereotactic radiosurgery. We can be reached at (800) 204-0455 or you can contact us online.

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