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Cancer Center

Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer: What is it?

There are several types of cells in the prostate, but nearly all prostate cancers start in the gland cells. This kind of cancer is known as adenocarcinoma. The rest of the information here refers only to prostate adenocarcinoma.

Some prostate cancers can grow and spread quickly, but most of the time, prostate cancer grows slowly. Autopsy studies show that many older men (and even younger men) who died of other diseases also had prostate cancer that never caused a problem during their lives. These studies showed that as many as 7 to 9 out of 10 men had prostate cancer by age 80. But neither they nor their doctors even knew they had it.

Pre-cancerous changes of the prostate

Some doctors believe that prostate cancer begins with very small changes in the size and shape of the prostate gland cells. These changes are known as PIN (prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia). Almost half of all men have PIN by the time they reach age 50. In PIN, there are changes in how the prostate gland cells look under the microscope, but the cells are basically still in place -- they don't look like they've gone into other parts of the prostate (like cancer cells would). These changes can be either low-grade (almost normal) or high-grade (abnormal).

A prostate biopsy might also show a change called atypical small acinar proliferation (ASAP). It is sometimes just called atypia. In ASAP, the cells look like they might be cancer when seen under the microscope, but there are too few of them on the slide to be sure. If ASAP is found, there's a high chance that cancer is also present in the prostate.

If you have had a prostate biopsy that showed high-grade PIN, ASAP, or certain other changes, there is a greater chance that there are cancer cells in your prostate. For this reason, you will be watched carefully and may need another biopsy.

St. Mary offers:

Technology

IMRT using Tomotherapy (with real time imaging to ensure precise treatments)

da Vinci Surgical System (for laproscopic robotic prostatectomy)

Pet/CT

Physicians

World class radiation oncologists

Medical Oncologists to provide hormone treatment and chemotherapy if needed

Support

Man To Man Prostate Cancer Support Group (Meets Monthly)

Support Group for Spouses (provided by the Gilda’s Club)