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Prostate Cancer

Did you know prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men? Nearly one in six American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. With greater awareness, prostate cancer detection is on the rise and mortality is declining. Gundersen's cancer experts offer treatments that are allowing more men to return to active and productive lives after treatment.

Thanks to PSA testing, most prostate cancers are now found before they cause symptoms. Although most symptoms can occur with prostate cancer, they are more likely to be associated with noncancerous conditions.

Screening recommendations

The prostate specific antigen (PSA) test can detect early stage cancer when it is more likely to be cured or controlled. Since it was first used in the 1980s, deaths from prostate cancer have fallen by about 30 percent.

Prostate cancer screening consists of:

  • A blood test that measures PSA level


  • A physical exam of the prostate

Screening cannot prove you have prostate cancer, but abnormal results may suggest you need more tests. Your urologist will help you decide whether to have a biopsy based upon your age, family history and overall health.

Our screening guidelines align with the American Urological Association. This is the national specialty organization trusted by prostate health experts at Gundersen Health System.

All men should be offered a baseline PSA level at the age of 40.
Future test results will be compared with this. Find out what your version of normal is before aging and other factors affect your PSA.

A digital (finger) rectal exam (DRE) and PSA should be offered each year to men over 50 who have:

  • Average risk of prostate cancer and are likely to live at least 10 years
  • No other symptoms of prostate problems and are likely to live 10 years

A digital (finger) rectal exam (DRE) and PSA should be offered each year to men 40 and older who:

  • Are African-American
  • Have a first degree sibling (father, brother or son) with prostate cancer

How often you are rescreened is up to you and your doctor. If your PSA remains less than 1.0 and if you have no other symptoms, a PSA test every other year may be enough.

Treatments we offer

If you have an early diagnosis of prostate cancer, there is usually a range of treatment options. Your treatment options will depend on a number of factors, including the stage of the disease, your age and health or personal preference.

You will be closely watched to make sure the cancer does not spread. This involves routine doctor check-ups. Monitoring may include:

  • Serial PSA blood test (usually every three months to one year)
  • Bone scan or CT scan to check whether the cancer has spread
  • Complete blood count (CBC) to monitor for signs and symptoms of anemia
  • Checking for other signs and symptoms, such as fatigue, weight loss, increased pain, decreased bowel and bladder function, and weakness

Intensity modulated radiation therapy
Intensity modulated radiation therapy shapes a treatment beam to fit the contours of its cancerous target. With computerized “sculpting,” high radiation doses can be delivered to a tumor while sparing normal surrounding tissue and organs.

At Gundersen, we use IMRT for prostate cancer and in other situations where it’s critical to avoid nearby organs. IMRT delivers more radiation in less time with the least possible spillover into normal anatomic structures. This minimizes side effects and means healthy tissue is less likely to be scarred or injured.

Behind-the-scenes preparation for IMRT is labor intensive, but each patient’s treatment time is still similar to standard radiation therapy. The reduced toxicity and improved cure rates are well worth the extra hours up front.

Prostate cancer surgery is often the treatment choice when the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. There are many different approaches to prostate cancer surgery, including laparoscopic and robotic surgeries, so talk with your doctor about which treatment plan may be right for you.

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