Prostate and Urologic Cancer Program

As Georgia’s largest and most comprehensive cancer care provider, Northside Hospital Cancer Institute (NHCI) diagnoses and treats more new prostate cancer patients than any other community cancer program in Georgia. Thanks to the most powerful combination of doctors, facilities and resources, we are ranked among the top 10 prostate cancer programs in the country.

Our Prostate and Urologic Cancer Program is committed to providing patients with the most advanced resources available to diagnose and treat prostate cancer. Annually, we screen over 850 men for prostate cancer with the hopes of catching it as early as possible.

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer affects men and starts in the prostate gland. The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped structure that makes up part of a man's reproductive system. It wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.

Learn more about prostate cancer.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

With early prostate cancer, there are often no symptoms. Symptoms of prostate cancer typically occur as the cancer grows larger in the prostate, although many of these symptoms can be caused by other prostate problems as well.

Symptoms of prostate cancer may include:

  • Slow or weak urinary stream
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain in the hips, back(spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer that has spread to the bones
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs and feet
  • Need to urinate more option, especially at night
  • Trouble getting an erection

Learn more about prostate cancer symptoms.

Prostate Cancer Risk Factors & Prevention

Risk Factors

Prostate cancer will affect one in every nine men and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men. The older a man is, the more likely he is to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Although prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than 40, the rate of developing prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. Nearly 60 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. Additionally, the risk of prostate cancer is 74 percent higher in men of African descent than in white men for reasons that remain unclear.

Age is the primary—but not the only—risk factor for prostate cancer. Other prostate cancer risk factors include:

  • Men of African descent
  • Family history of prostate cancer (father, brother or son) – especially if multiple family members have been diagnosed
  • Increased risk if family member was diagnosed before the age of 55
  • Genetic risk factors – a family history of other cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer or pancreatic cancer
  • Obesity
  • Lifestyle
  • Dietary habits

A common problem in almost all men as they grow older is an enlarged prostate. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. It does not raise your risk of prostate cancer. But, it can increase your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test result.

Learn more about prostate cancer risk factors.

Cancer Genetics Program

Northside Hospital's Cancer Genetics Program is available to patients interested in genetic counseling and testing due to strong personal or family histories of prostate, breast, gynecologic, colorectal and pancreatic cancers. Our team of certified genetic counselors helps patients assess, understand and reduce the risk of developing certain types of genetically influenced cancer such as prostate cancer. For additional information, please call 404-851-6284 or email genetics@northside.com.

Prevention

The ultimate goal is to prevent men from developing prostate cancer. However, currently there is no proven recommendation or strategy to prevent prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer can be found early using a simple blood test that looks for elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA). It is important to remember that many factors can affect PSA levels, so an elevated PSA does not always indicate cancer.

Some experts believe that diagnosing prostate cancer early – when treatment might be most effective – saves lives. Others question whether the benefits of screening outweigh the potential harmful side effects of treatment.

All experts agree men should be given access to information about the pros and cons of PSA testing so that they can make informed decisions based on their own values and preferences.

Prostate Cancer Screening & Diagnosis

Screening

Although there is no guaranteed prevention against prostate cancer, regular prostate cancer screenings are pivotal to detecting it early, when the disease is most treatable.

A prostate cancer screening consists of a simple blood test to measure the amount of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) in the blood.

Beginning at age 40, men should discuss the pros and cons of a prostate cancer screening with a physician, especially if considered to be at higher risk for prostate cancer.

Download our flyer to learn more about the benefits and risks of PSA testing to screen for prostate cancer.

Community Prostate Cancer Screenings

Northside Hospital Cancer Institute (NHCI) holds multiple prostate cancer screenings (PSA blood tests) for community members each year at several convenient locations throughout Georgia.

Men who meet the following criteria are eligible to register and attend NHCI community prostate cancer screenings:

  • Men who are between the ages of 45-75
  • Men who do not have a prostate cancer diagnosis
  • Men who have not had a PSA blood test within the past year

To register for an upcoming Northside Hospital community prostate cancer screening, please call 404-531-4444. Qualified interpreters are available to assist you at each screening event. Please inform registration staff members of your language preference. View upcoming dates for our prostate cancer screening events on our Community Calendar.

2019 Community Prostate Cancer Screening Schedule (English) Spanish

Men are encouraged to make an informed decision with their health care provider regarding the appropriateness of prostate cancer screening.

Diagnosis

For American men, prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer, behind only lung cancer.

A biopsy is needed to diagnose prostate cancer. A doctor may recommend a biopsy if:

  • Patient has a high PSA level
  • A digital rectal exam reveals a hard or uneven surface

The results of prostate cancer screenings are reported using what is called a Gleason grade. The Gleason grade tells how fast the prostate cancer might spread, grading tumors on a scale of 1 - 5. There may be different grades of prostate cancer in one biopsy sample. The two main grades are added together to calculate the Gleason score. The higher the Gleason score, the more likely the cancer is to have spread past the prostate:

  • Scores 2 - 5: Low-grade prostate cancer
  • Scores 6 - 7: Intermediate-grade prostate cancer (most prostate cancers fall into this group)
  • Scores 8 - 10: High-grade prostate cancer

After a diagnosis of prostate cancer occurs, a CT scan or bone scan may be performed to determine whether the cancer has spread.

Learn more about prostate cancer diagnoses.

Team of Prostate Cancer Specialists

The strength of Northside Hospital Cancer Institute’s Prostate and Urologic Cancer Program is our multidisciplinary team of specially trained prostate cancer specialists who work together every step of the way to provide personalized medical care for each prostate cancer patient. Our Program offers a comprehensive scope of medical services, the latest technology, leading-edge clinical research and compassionate cancer care.

At Northside Hospital Cancer Institute, cancer specialists work together to provide the best care possible to patients diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Our prostate cancer multidisciplinary care team consists of:

  • Urologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiologists
  • Pathologists
  • Certified genetic counselors
  • Oncology nurse navigators
  • Clinical research nurses

Rollover the graphic for more information

Multidisciplinary 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Our prostate cancer multidisciplinary team of experts meets regularly to prospectively discuss prostate cancer cases and agree upon evidence-based Prostate Cancer Treatment Options for each patient. This provides our medical specialists with a forum to discuss prostate cancer cases, national treatment guidelines, and each prostate cancer patient’s unique life circumstances.

Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

Northside Hospital Cancer Institute is committed to providing high quality prostate cancer treatment options and to making access to cancer care as convenient as possible.

We treat prostate cancer with the latest treatments, including personalized therapies based on the prostate cancer’s specific genetic makeup. Northside Hospital Cancer Institute prostate cancer specialists and supportive care team members work together to ensure all patients receive high quality, evidence-based prostate cancer treatment.

For more information about prostate cancer treatment, please expand the content below.

Because prostate cancer often grows slowly, a patient might never need treatment for their prostate cancer. Instead, a doctor may recommend active surveillance or watchful waiting, if the prostate cancer is not causing any symptoms, is expected to grow slowly (based on Gleason score), is small, or is isolated to the prostate.

Many times surgery is a common choice to treat prostate cancer that has not spread outside the prostate gland. The main type of surgery for prostate cancer is a radical prostatectomy. In this operation, the surgeon removes all of the prostate gland and some of the tissue around it.

At Northside, our Prostate & Urologic Cancer Program offers several techniques to performing radical prostatectomy surgery including traditional open surgery, laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery. Patients should discuss the differences between the various radical prostatectomy approaches with their doctor to determine which the best option for them is.

Chemotherapy or “chemo” uses medication to destroy prostate cancer cells by stopping growth. At Northside's Infusion Centers, chemotherapy is provided on an outpatient basis by registered nurses who are certified in chemotherapy administration.

Chemotherapy is sometimes used if the prostate cancer has spread outside the prostate gland and hormone therapy is not working.

Radiation therapy also called radiation oncology, is a cancer treatment that uses high energy X-rays or radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation may be used before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to kill remaining cancerous cells.

Northside offers several types of radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer:

Learn more about each of these procedures and our Radiation Oncology Program.

Cryotherapy (or cryosurgery or cryoablation) is a procedure that uses very cold temperatures to freeze and destroy the tumor. Northside Hospital is one of the few hospitals in Atlanta performing cryotherapy.

Cryotherapy is a less invasive treatment option for patients where the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate. Men who cannot have surgery because of their age or other health problems may have cryosurgery instead. It also may be used if cancer comes back after other treatments. Cryotherapy is generally not used as a first treatment for prostate cancer.

Hormone therapy for prostate cancer is also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). This procedure uses surgery or drugs to lower the levels of male sex hormones (androgens) in a man's body as androgens cause prostate cancer cells to grow. Hormone therapy for prostate cancer lowers the effect level of androgens in the body with the goal of slowing down the growth of prostate cancer.

Hormone therapy for prostate cancer may be used if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland, if the cancer has failed to respond to surgery or radiation therapy, with a recurrence of prostate cancer. It can also be used before radiation or surgery to help shrink tumors and along with radiation therapy for cancer that is likely to recur.

Clinical trials are studies that involve people and are a critical part of oncology research. These studies test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose or treat cancer. If a patient takes part in prostate cancer clinical trials, there is an opportunity to contribute to scientists’ knowledge about prostate cancer and to help in the development of improved prostate cancer treatments. Patients also receive state-of-the-art care from Northside Hospital’s cancer specialists and experts.

Learn more about Cancer Clinical Trials at Northside Hospital

Learn more about NHCI Cancer Treatment Options

Prostate Cancer Support & Survivorship

Prostate cancer treatment and recovery can be overwhelming, which is why the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute’s Prostate and Urologic Cancer Program offers patient access to oncology nurse navigators to guide them through every step of their journey. Our oncology nurse navigators are registered nurses with extensive knowledge and training in oncology. They are available to help guide patients after diagnosis and through prostate cancer treatment, educating and supporting them to make informed decisions, while working with urologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists and other cancer specialists on the prostate cancer care team to coordinate each patient’s treatment plan.

Support provided by our NHCI oncology nurse navigators includes access to emotional and psychological support such as referrals to the right counseling services and cancer support groups.

To learn more about oncology patient navigation or to speak with an oncology nurse navigator, please call 404-300-2800 or email nurse.navigator@northside.com.

Ongoing support is crucial when you are facing prostate cancer and afterward. Northside Hospital Cancer Institute provides a full range of support and survivorship programs and services to address the unique needs of each prostate cancer patient.

Learn more about Cancer Support & Survivorship programs and services available at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute.