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Prostate Cancer

Last Updated 11/7/2013 3:03:53 PM

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men in the U.S. Age is the most common risk factor: The disease typically affects those over 50, with 75 percent of all cases occurring in men over 65.

El Camino Hospital’s Cancer Center helps patients access the latest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. Our patient-focused approach brings a range of specialized services to one convenient central location, where a team of specialists can consult and collaborate seamlessly. Chemotherapy is administered in a pleasant, relaxed setting at our infusion center. Specially trained and certified chemotherapy nurses, nurse-practitioners, and physicians are available to answer questions and manage any issues that come up during treatments.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Several different approaches are used to treat prostate cancer. The cancer team collaborates to identify the best treatments based on the individual patient and the disease “stage” -- the degree to which the cancer has progressed.

Active Surveillance

The goal of active surveillance is to monitor the cancer’s progress and defer treatment until symptoms or disease changes. This is an option for men with early- stage prostate cancer or for older men with other medical problems.

CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery

The CyberKnife is a radiation therapy device that is able to pinpoint solid tumors anywhere in the body with sub-millimeter accuracy using image-guidance technology. As a result, no incisions, anesthesia or hospitalization are required, and usually only one to five treatment sessions are all that are required. Read more about the CyberKnife.


Surgery is performed to remove the prostate and possibly some of the surrounding tissue. Whenever possible, we strive to use minimally invasive, nerve- sparing procedures to help preserve urinary control and erectile function. open radical prostatectomy This is a surgical removal of the entire prostate, typically performed under general anesthesia. Open radical prostatectomy may require a slightly longer hospital stay and recovery period than other surgeries.

Laparoscopic Surgery

Laparoscopic surgery generally involves less blood loss, less pain, and quicker recovery. This relatively new technique for prostate removal uses a laparoscope, a device that guides the surgeon by transmitting a picture of the prostate to a video monitor. The procedure requires five small (5 to 10 millimeters in length) incisions--one just below the belly button and two each on both sides of the lower abdomen. Surgical instruments are inserted into the incisions through small tubes.

Robotic Prostatectomy

Arguably the most effective, most nerve-sparing, and least invasive prostate surgery available today, this technique relies on specialized laparoscopic instruments to remove the prostate. Specially trained surgeons operate through five or six tiny incisions using state-of- the-art robotic "hands". Robotic prostatectomy is not appropriate for all patients, and its use is dependent on a patient’s particular disease, general health, and other factors. Visit our da Vinci Robotic Surgery web pages to learn more.


The goal of cryosurgery is to freeze and destroy abnormal cells. The procedure is performed with a special instrument containing liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide. It can be used in selected patients but typically not as a first line of therapy because of its higher rate of erectile dysfunction compared to surgery or radiation.


This treatment involves the surgical implantation of radioactive "seeds" into the prostate gland. The procedure is done in the operating room, but can usually be performed on an outpatient basis. A very effective and accurate option, brachytherapy minimizes the risk of side effects such as incontinence.  Learn more about this treatment.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

Rather than targeting the tumor with a single large beam of radiation, IMRT breaks the radiation up into thousands of tiny, pencil-thin beams. This provides the radiation oncologist with greater accuracy, delivering a high dose of radiation directly to the targeted tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding tissues.

Medical Oncology Approaches

The term "medical oncology" refers to the use of medications such as hormones, chemotherapy, and/or analgesics in the treatment of cancer. Medical oncology treatment is often performed in tandem with other approaches such as radiation or surgery.

Hormone Therapy

Sometimes, cutting off the supply of the male hormone testosterone can help shrink the prostate tumor and slow tumor growth. In such cases, testosterone levels are lowered through the use of medication.


Chemotherapy consists of intravenous or injection delivery of anticancer drugs to impede the growth and reproduction of cancer cells.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials provide access to leading-edge therapies that are still in the research phase. The Cancer Center at El Camino Hospital works with such esteemed partners as the Bay Area Tumor Institure and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to offer qualified patients the opportunity to take part in ongoing clinical trials. If this is something you might be interested in, please talk with your physician.


El Camino Hospital uses several methods to screen for prostate cancer. We aim to detect the disease in its early stages, when treatment is most successful. Our screening methods include:

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test

Elevated PSAs in the bloodstream may indicate prostate cancer or a noncancerous condition such as prostatitis or an enlarged prostate. This is normally the first screening conducted in conjunction with a digital rectal exam, and if there is cause for concern, additional tests may be ordered.

Digital Rectal Exam

Although the prostate is an internal organ, the physician can check it by inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the front of the rectum. This test is typically performed during a standard physical exam.

Ultrasound-Guided Biopsy

If the PSA blood test and/or digital rectal exam creates suspicion, a physician may examine the prostate with an ultrasound instrument. Small slivers of tissue are extracted from the suspicious area and tested for cancer. X-rays or blood and urine tests may also be used to aid diagnosis.

Prostate Cancer
Services Brochure

Click this image to download a brochure on the Cancer Center Prostate Cancer Services

Download an informational brochure about the Prostate Cancer Services at the Cancer Center at El Camino Hospital.

Prostate Cancer Support

Click this image to download a brochure on the Prostate Cancer Support Groups

Download an informational brochure about the Prostate Cancer Support Groups at El Camino Hospital.