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Prostate Cancer

Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s prostate cancer program is dedicated to providing new levels of precision to the field of prostate cancer care. With one of the most advanced programs for radiotherapy treatment of prostate cancer in the U.S., we offer the latest treatments that carefully target cancerous cells while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed. 

As the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in North Texas, we deliver the best cancer care available today and push to discover new treatments. NCI designation means we offer patients the ability to participate in the broadest possible range of clinical trials, with access to potential therapies not available at other facilities.

A Team Dedicated to the Highest Standard of Care

The prostate is a small organ that is part of the male system of urinary and genital organs. It is located under the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is a tube that drains urine from the bladder through the penis. The primary function of the prostate gland is to produce part of the fluid that makes up semen. 

When cancer develops in the prostate, it is usually very slow growing and highly treatable. Some men might never even know they have the disease. Occasionally, prostate cancer will grow more quickly or spread outside the prostate – that’s when it becomes more life-threatening. 

At UT Southwestern, our team of prostate cancer experts works with patients to understand each person’s disease, providing personalized, compassionate care to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Many of our specialists are recognized as national leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. Together, we take a collaborative approach, leveraging the expertise of a wide range of experts, including urologists, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, and pathologists, to provide each patient with the highest standard of care.

Prostate Cancer Screening and Symptoms

There are usually no specific signs or symptoms of early prostate cancer. A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) provide the best chance of identifying prostate cancer in its earliest stages, but these tests can have drawbacks. Patients should speak with their physicians about whether prostate cancer screening is right for them. 

If symptoms of prostate cancer do occur, they can include:

  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Difficulty urinating or holding back urine
  • Inability to urinate
  • Nagging pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Urinating often (especially at night)
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine 

Causes and Risk Factors

About 14 percent of men are at risk for prostate cancer. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of prostate cancers are hereditary. Other prostate cancers can have underlying environmental causes or can be caused by a combination of environment and genetics. 

Family history is the most common risk factor for prostate cancer. Other risk factors – such as obesity, smoking, prostatitis, and vasectomy – have been suggested to increase the link for prostate cancer. However, a definite association has not been proven. 

Patients should speak with a genetic counselor or their doctors for more details about these risk factors and protective factors that might reduce the risk for prostate cancers, as well as screening and preventive options.

Services for Prostate Cancer

At UT Southwestern, our dedication to precision starts with prompt and accurate diagnosis. Our highly accurate diagnostic techniques include:

  • Digital rectal examinations
  • Prostate-specific antigen
  • MRI-guided biopsy
  • TRUS/MRI-guided biopsy (transrectal ultrasound/MRI fusion technique)
  • Ultrasound-guided biopsy 

If a patient is diagnosed with prostate cancer, our physicians will develop a unique plan of care. Because the disease usually grows slowly, we might recommend a “watch-and-wait” approach, also known as active surveillance, which involves close monitoring without treatment. 

For patients who do require treatment, we offer advanced techniques that include medical therapies, radiation therapy, and surgery. 

Support Services

UT Southwestern offers support services for patients with prostate cancer and their families to help them handle every situation they experience during cancer treatment and after. These services include nutrition counseling, physical therapy and rehabilitation, support groups, and more. 

Clinical Trials

As an academic medical center, UT Southwestern frequently conducts clinical trials that give patients the opportunity to complement traditional therapy for prostate cancer with new and promising treatment strategies. 

Current clinical trials are working to make stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) treatments safer by using a biodegradable rectal spacer gel to protect the rectum. UT Southwestern is currently the only accredited site in Texas at which this spacer gel can be used. 

Patients should speak with their doctors about clinical trial opportunities.

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