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Cancer of the Prostate

What is cancer of the prostate?

The prostate gland is part of a man’s reproductive system. It is about the size of a walnut. It is located inside the body, between the bladder and the penis. It surrounds the upper part of the tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis. The prostate makes fluid that nourishes sperm and helps carry it out of the body during sex.

Prostate cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the prostate gland. Growths of cancer cells are called tumors. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is still anal cancer, and is called metastatic cancer.

There are different types and stages of prostate cancer based on what kind of cancer cells are found, where the tumor started and where it has spread. Knowing your stage of prostate cancer you have helps your healthcare provider decide on the best treatment plan for you. Although most prostate cancer grows very slowly, it is important to diagnose and treat prostate cancer that is at high risk to spread as soon as possible. The main goals of treatment are to kill the tumor cells, prevent a localized cancer from spreading, and prevent metastatic cancer from spreading more than it already has.

The cause of prostate cancer is not known. Studies have found or suggested the following risk factors for prostate cancer:

  • Age: Age is the main risk factor for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than 50. The chance of getting it gets higher as a man gets older. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer are older than 65.
  • Heredity: A man’s risk is 2 to 3 times higher if his father or brother had prostate cancer.
  • Race: Prostate cancer is more common and more aggressive in African-American men.
  • Diet: Studies suggest that men who eat a diet high in red meat and high-fat dairy products or who are obese may have an increased risk for prostate cancer.

What can I expect in the hospital?

Several things may be done while you are in the hospital to monitor, test, and treat your condition. They include:


  • You will be checked often by the hospital staff.
  • Your heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature will be checked regularly.
  • Your blood oxygen level may be monitored by a sensor that is attached to your finger or earlobe.


You may have testing to confirm your cancer diagnosis. Other testing may be done to check to see if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. Testing may include:

  • Blood tests to check for certain hormones, proteins, or chemicals that may be high if you have prostate cancer
  • Digital rectal exam: A test in which your provider will put 1 lubricated, gloved finger in your rectum and gently press on the rectal wall to check the size and shape of the prostate gland
  • Transrectal ultrasound: Sound waves passed through the body from a small device (called a transducer) that is placed inside the rectum to create pictures of the inside of the prostate gland
  • Transrectal biopsy: A test in which the healthcare provider uses transrectal ultrasound to guide a needle through the rectum into the prostate and remove a piece of prostate tissue to look for cancer cells (called a biopsy)
  • X-rays: Pictures of the inside of the chest and bones to check for cancer
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: A series of X-rays taken from different angles and arranged by a computer to show thin sections of the prostate gland and other areas where the cancer may have spread
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A powerful magnetic field and radio waves are used to take pictures from different angles to show thin sections of the prostate gland and other areas where the cancer may have spread
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A series of detailed pictures that are taken after your healthcare provider injects a small amount of radioactive material into your blood. The scan shows areas where the radioactive material is being absorbed.


The treatment for prostate cancer depends on the type and stage of the cancer.

  • You will have a small tube (IV catheter) inserted into a vein in your hand or arm. This will allow for medicine to be given directly into your blood and to give you fluids, if needed.
  • You may need surgery to treat the cancer. Surgery may include:
    • Prostatectomy: Removal of part or all of the prostate gland. This may be done through the lower abdomen or through the perineum, which is the area between the scrotum and anus.
    • Lymph node dissection: Surgery to remove lymph nodes near the prostate gland to check if the cancer has already spread. It also allows the pathologist to determine the stage of the cancer accurately. This will allow your healthcare providers to determine if you need more treatment after you recover from surgery.
    • Orchiectomy: Removal of the testicles to stop your body from making hormones that help prostate cancer grow
    • Cryotherapy: A procedure in which several hollow needles are placed in the prostate gland through the perineum. A very cold gas is given through the needles to freeze the area and kill the cancer cells.
    • Brachytherapy radiation: A procedure in which high-energy radiation is used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This can be done in two ways.
      • Permanent seed implantation: A procedure in which about 100 small seeds (about the size of a grain of rice) are placed into the prostate gland through the perineum. These seeds give off low doses of radiation over a longer period of time.
      • High dose rate brachytherapy: A procedure in which tiny tubes, called catheters, are placed into the prostate gland through the perineum to deliver high doses of radiation
  • Treatments may include:
    • Chemotherapy (anticancer drugs), which uses medicine to kill cancer cells.
    • Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
    • Treat pain
    • Treat or prevent an infection
    • Treat or prevent anemia, which means you have too few red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to your body. Anemia may be caused by your cancer, your treatment, or other problems.
    • Treat or prevent side effects, such as nausea or constipation, from other treatments
    • Help your immune system fight cancer
    • Block the hormones that allow prostate cancer to grow

What can I do to help?

  • You will need to tell your healthcare team if you have new or worsening:
    • Trouble emptying your bladder
    • Weak flow of urine or leaking urine
    • Increased urination
    • Blood in urine
    • Pain or burning when urinating
    • Swelling in your scrotum or groin
    • Belly pain
    • Redness, swelling, pain, warmth, or drainage from your surgical wound
    • Fever, chills, or muscle aches.
  • Ask questions about any medicine or treatment or information that you do not understand.

How long will I be in the hospital?

How long you stay in the hospital depends on many factors. The average amount of time to stay in the hospital with prostate cancer is 2 days.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-19
Last reviewed: 2014-10-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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