Prostate Cancer Program
Advances in Treating Prostate Cancer
at St. Luke’s
St. Luke's Cancer Center's comprehensive approach to prostate cancer begins with a thorough evaluation and diagnostic work-up, so that a personalized care plan can be developed with leading-edge treatments.
At St. Luke's, highly skilled physicians specialize in treating urologic cancers with minimally-invasive, robotically-assisted and laparoscopic surgical techniques. Patients also benefit from highly precise radiation therapy treatments that target tumors while preserving surrounding healthy tissue.
What is it?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. It is diagnosed in 200,000 men each year. It occurs when some cells in the prostate become abnormal. Nearly all prostate cancers start in the gland cells.
The good news – aggressive screening and early treatment have increased survival rates in recent years.
Causes, Symptoms & Risk Factors
Prostate cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms at its earliest stage. It is often detected on a blood test for a protein called prostate specific antigen, or PSA. Some men may develop a lump in the prostate gland which may be felt during a routine digital rectal exam.
Some men may experience changes in urinary or sexual function and should see their physician to evaluate the condition. These symptoms may include:
- The need to urinate frequently, especially at night
- Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Painful or burning urination
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
- Difficulty in having an erection
- Painful ejaculation
Tests, Procedures and Treatments
Prostate Cancer Screening
Prostate screening involves a rectal exam and a simple blood test for a protein called prostate specific antigen, or PSA. PSA is produced by the normal prostate, but can be produced at higher levels and at a more rapid rate by a prostate with cancer.
Annual screening is recommended for all men once they reach age 50. Men at higher risk, including those with a family history of prostate cancer or men of African-American descent, are recommended to begin screening at age 45.
Based on the results of the two screenings, a decision is made regarding the degree of risk for harboring prostate cancer. A TRUS prostate biopsy – done in the doctor's office with local anesthetic—may be recommended. There can be significant anxiety about this procedure, but it is very well tolerated and takes only 10 minutes to perform.
If cancer is diagnosed, the next step is to establish the “stage.” Staging includes the PSA level, result of the rectal exam, and grade or aggressiveness of the cancer determined by the biopsy. Staging may also include the results of radiographic imaging to help determine if there is any spread of the cancer to other organs.
Treatment is tailored to each patient. Options may include observation or “watchful waiting” for older men with low-grade and slow-growing tumors, medical therapies, radiation and surgery. The treatment decision should be made with a urologist, but may also include consultation with a family doctor and radiation oncologist. St. Luke's offers advanced options for prostate cancer, including robotic prostatectomy.
TRUS Prostate Biopsy
This ultrasound-guided biopsy can be used to diagnose prostate cancer in patients with an abnormal digital rectal exam or elevated PSA. This office-based procedure performed under local anesthetic in about 10 minutes is very well tolerated.
The minimally-invasive robotic prostatectomy is the most advanced, minimally invasive surgical option for qualified prostate cancer patients. It results in small incisions, decreased pain, significant reduction in blood loss and faster recovery. While this technique provides excellent cancer control, it simultaneously improves quality of life by sparing nerves for erectile function and preserving the bladder control mechanism, further decreasing the risk of urinary incontinence.
Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
St. Luke's was the first treatment center in Pennsylvania to install and utilize Varian's new On-Board Imager™ device, a fully robotic Dynamic Targeting™ IGRT system for tracking tumor locations and positioning patients. IGRT enables doctors to minimize the volume of healthy tissue exposed to the treatment beam. With IGRT, the radiation beam is shaped so that it closely matches the shape of the tumor.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
Using this technology, more tightly focused radiation beams can be delivered to cancerous tumors than is possible with conventional radiation therapy. In the case of prostate cancer, exposure or the nearby bladder or rectum can be minimized.
Promising therapies in medical oncology and access to the latest clinical trials.
Prostate Cancer Counselor Program
From the moment you learn you have prostate cancer, a counselor is available to help during diagnosis and treatment and provides:
- Advocacy for patients through diagnosis and treatment
- Support for patients and family members
- Referrals and links to services and community agencies, including transportation as available
- Help with the completion of disability and other insurance forms
The Prostate Cancer Counselor also co-facilitates St. Luke's Prostate Cancer Support Group.
For more information on St. Luke's Prostate Cancer Counselor program, please contact:
- Stacie Anton, RN, CURN, OCN, of St. Luke's Center for Urology at 610-882-2598, or
- John Flenner, MEd, at 484-526-4932
Prostate Cancer Support Group
The focus of the Prostate Cancer Support Group is to educate and support men whose lives have been impacted by prostate, bladder, testicular or penile cancers.
The group meets the first Tuesday of every month from 7 to 8:30 pm in the Radiation Oncology Waiting Room on the first floor of the St. Luke's Cancer Center at 801 Ostrum Street. Call 484-526-4932 for more information. Contact: John Flenner, M.Ed.