Helpful Tools

Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Symptoms are not always present with prostate cancer. When they are present, the most common symptoms include

Urinary problems
     - Having an inability to pass urine
     - Having a hard time starting or stopping urine flow
     - Needing to urinate often, especially at night
     - Having a weak urine flow
     - Having pain or burning while urinating

Problems having an erection (erectile dysfunction)
Blood in the urine or semen
Frequent pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
These symptoms do not automatically mean that you have prostate cancer. They can indicate the presence of some other noncancerous condition, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia.

What can I do to prevent prostate cancer?
There is no real way to prevent prostate cancer. But you can make certain lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy and exercising, that may reduce your risk of developing this disease.

How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a digital rectal exam (DRE) and take a blood test to measure your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. If the results are not normal, you may also undergo a transrectal ultrasound and transrectal biopsy.

Do high PSA levels mean I have prostate cancer?
Not necessarily. High PSA levels can also indicate the presence of a noncancerous condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia. If your PSA levels are elevated, your doctor will do other tests to find out what is causing the elevated PSA levels.

What are my treatment options?
Your treatment options vary, depending, in part, on the stage of your prostate cancer. Treatment options may include radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery to remove the cancer cells.

How will I know if my treatment is working?
Monitoring your PSA levels is one way to check whether your treatment is working. Successful monitoring also includes
Keeping your doctor's appointments
Recording your PSA results
Following your doctor’s recommendations
Will I have side effects with my treatment?
Side effects depend on the type of treatment you receive. It’s important to tell your doctor about any side effects.

What are the most common side effects of prostate cancer treatments?
Side effects depend on your treatment. Read more about how to manage side effects.

Can I take vitamins or supplements during my treatment for prostate cancer?
Some vitamins and herbal supplements may affect the way your treatment works. So always ask your doctor before you take any vitamins or supplements.

Online Resources for Prostate Cancer

If you’re looking for more information about prostate cancer, you can contact the following organizations. They’ll also be able to help you connect with the local support groups in your area, should you be interested in joining one. Please note that the information provided by these organizations is not meant to replace your doctor’s medical advice.

American Association for Cancer Research or (866) 423-3965

The American Association for Cancer Research provides research grants, publishes several prestigious medical journals, and has an active patient education program.

American Cancer Society or (800) 227-2345
Fact sheets prepared by the American Cancer Society (ACS) provide a starting point for dealing with family members and other issues that may arise after a prostate cancer diagnosis. The site also includes information about the ACS and statistics about prostate cancer incidence rates.

American Urological Association Foundation or (800) 828-7866
This organization is dedicated to the prevention and cure of urologic diseases, such as prostate cancer, through research, education, and public awareness. The site includes research facts, educational material, and advocacy information.

Cancer Information Service of the National Cancer Institute or (800) 4-CANCER
This is the most useful gateway for information from the National Cancer Institute. From here, you can access a portion of the contents of PDQ®—the Physician Data Query database—which provides detailed information about specific cancers written for both medical professionals and patients.

Department of Defense Center for Prostate Disease Research (CPDR) or (240) 453-8900
The CPDR is a prostate cancer research program funded by the US Army that conducts nationwide research at US Army, Navy, and Air Force hospitals. The website explains the program and provides education and research updates.

National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship or (301) 650-9127
The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship is a grassroots network of individuals and organizations working on behalf of people with all types of cancer.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network or (215) 690-0300
Dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of cancer care, this not-for-profit organization is made up of 21 of the world’s leading cancer centers. The network develops treatment guidelines, including the NCCN National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN) Guidelines for Patients™: Prostate Cancer, which you can download here.

Patient Advocates for Advanced Cancer Treatments (PAACT) or (616) 453-1477
PAACT offers the latest news releases regarding prostate cancer and new treatment options. You will also find a list of pertinent links for additional information sources.

Prostate Conditions Education Council (PCEC) or (866) 477-6788
The PCEC is a leading provider of information about prostate health issues. In addition to providing a wide range of information about prostate cancer and related health topics, the PCEC website provides a prostate cancer screening center locator, allowing you to find a screening center close to you.
Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network or (800) 80-US-TOO
Us TOO helps survivors of prostate cancer and prostate disease and their families. This organization offers fellowship, shared counseling, and discussion sessions in both formal and informal settings that foster a positive mental outlook.

Glossary of Medical Words
Androgen deprivation:
Type of treatment used to stop the production of testosterone

Condition in which red blood cells are less able to carry oxygen to supply energy to cells throughout your body; feeling tired all the time (fatigue) is a common symptom of anemia

Anti-androgen therapy:
A drug that blocks the activity of an androgen hormone; treatment that adds estrogen to the body

Benign prostatic hyperplasia:
A noncancerous condition of the prostate in which an overgrowth of prostate tissue pushes against the urethra and bladder, blocking urine flow

Biochemical recurrence:
Treatment relapse in which the PSA blood levels rise in a man with prostate cancer

Radiation therapy in which tiny radioactive seeds are precisely implanted in the prostate; considered a type of implant radiation therapy

Uncontrolled cell growth that forms tumors

Drugs used to destroy rapidly growing cancer cells

Type of steroid; may be used in combination with chemotherapy to treat advanced prostate cancer

Procedure using Argon gas, which is inserted through an incision in the skin to freeze and destroy the prostate

Digital rectal exam (DRE):
Exam in which your doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel your prostate through the rectal wall, checking for hard or lumpy areas

Erectile dysfunction (ED):
Inability to achieve or maintain an erection that is adequate for sexual activity

External-beam radiation:
Radiation that comes from a machine outside the body; used to target cancer cells

Loss of power or your capacity to respond to stimulation

Gleason score:
A system of grading prostate cancer tissue based on how it looks under a microscope. Gleason scores range from 2 to 10 and indicate how likely it is that a tumor will spread. A low Gleason score means the cancer tissue is similar to normal prostate tissue and the tumor is less likely to spread. A high Gleason score means the cancer tissue is very different from normal and the tumor is more likely to spread
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists: Types of drugs used to stop testosterone production by the testes and, in turn, slow hormone-dependent prostate cancer cell growth

High-density lipoprotein (HDL):
One of 2 types of cholesterol that are measured to calculate your total cholesterol level; often referred to as “good cholesterol” because it helps reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol,” in your body

A chemical substance the body produces to regulate the growth and functioning of certain cells and organs

Hormone therapy:
Treatment with drugs to interfere with hormone production or hormone action, or the surgical removal of hormone-producing glands

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL):
One of 2 types of cholesterol that are measured to calculate your total cholesterol level; it is often referred to as “bad cholesterol” because high levels can lead to cardiovascular disease

Surgical removal of the lymph nodes

Uncontrolled spread of abnormal cells

Describes cancer that has spread to sites distant from the original spot where the cancer first developed

Being extremely overweight

Surgery to remove the testes; castration

Palliative therapy:
Therapy used to improve the quality of life by managing disease symptoms

Prostate cancer:
Uncontrolled spread or malignant growth of abnormal cells of the prostate gland

Prostate gland:
Walnut-sized male sex gland that lies underneath the urinary bladder

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA):
Protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. PSA levels are used to help identify disorders of the prostate

Proton-beam radiation:
Type of radiation that uses protons to kill tumor cells without damaging nearby tissues

Radiation therapy:
Treatment that uses high-energy X-ray beams to shrink tumors

Radical prostatectomy:
Surgical removal of the entire prostate

Male sex hormone produced primarily by the testes; important in male physical and sexual function and development

TNM (tumor-nodes-metastasis) staging:
Common method of staging cancer, including prostate cancer

Total cholesterol:
Includes LDL (bad cholesterol) + HDL (good cholesterol) + triglyceride levels (blood fats)

Transrectal biopsy:
In prostate cancer, the removal of a small tissue sample from the prostate. A pathologist checks the sample for cancer cells

Transrectal ultrasound:
Test that uses sound waves to produce a sonogram; ultrasound allows your doctor to look closely at your prostate for abnormal areas

Blood fats

Mass of tissue formed from the buildup of extra cells. Not all tumors are cancerous

Watchful waiting/active surveillance:
A program of ongoing testing and examinations to closely monitor the state of a patient’s prostate cancer, without immediate treatment for