Torrance Memorial Prostate Cancer Program

For men, prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer (skin cancer is the most common). Torrance Memorial’s Hunt Cancer Institute is committed to delivering prompt diagnosis and optimal treatment, tailored to individual needs, as well as providing practical and emotional support to men with prostate cancer and their families.

Our specialized team of cancer care physicians, nurses and staff provides expert care for men with prostate cancer. We offer state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment technologies, including robotic prostatectomy using the da Vinci Surgical System, and a wide range of clinical trials.

What is Prostate Cancer?

Because it affects the male reproductive system, prostate cancer only affects men. It begins and grows in the prostate gland and usually grows very slowly. In fact, most patients with prostate cancer die of other causes. Even aggressive cases of localized prostate cancer can be cured with surgery or radiation therapy.

Prostate Cancer Types

Almost all prostate cancers originate in the cells of the prostate gland. Although other types of cancer, including sarcomas and small cell carcinomas, can develop in the prostate gland, the vast majority of cancers diagnosed in the prostate belong to a category called adenocarcinoma.

Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that forms in mucus-secreting glands throughout the body. It can occur in many different places in the body.

Stages of Prostate Cancer

The most widely used staging system for prostate cancer is the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system, which uses five pieces of information:

  • T: The extent of the primary tumor
  • N: Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
  • M: The absence or presence of distant metastasis
  • The PSA level: the level of prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced by prostate. The higher his PSA level is, the more likely that a patient has prostate cancer.
  • The Gleason score

Prostate cancer is assigned a stage from I to III based on the information listed above. This table illustrates how prostate cancer is staged:

Stage T N M PSA Gleason
I T1a-c N0 M0 PSA < 10 Gleason ≤6
T2a N0 M0 PSA < 10 Gleason ≤6
TI-T2a N0 M0 PSA X Gleason X
IIA T1a-c N0 M0 PSA < 20 Gleason 7
T1a-c N0 M0 PSA ≥10 but < 20 Gleason ≤6
T2a N0 M0 PSA < 20 Gleason ≤7
T2b N0 M0 PSA < 20 Gleason ≤7
T2b N0 M0 PSA X Gleason X
IIB T2c N0 M0 PSA X Any Gleason
T1-2 N0 M0 Any PSA Any Gleason
T1-2 N0 M0 PSA ≥20 Gleason ≥8
III T3a-b N0 M0 Any PSA Any Gleason
IV T4 N0 M0 Any PSA Any Gleason
Any T N1 M0 Any PSA Any Gleason
Any T Any N M1 Any PSA Any Gleason

Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

Age is the single most important risk factor for prostate cancer, which ffects mainly older men. Four out of five cases are diagnosed in men over age 65, but less than 1% in men under 50. Beside age, other risk factors of prostate cancer are:

  • Race/ ethnicity
  • Geography
  • Family history
  • Gene changes
  • Diet
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Workplace exposure (for instance, firefighters are at higher risk for prostate cancer)
  • Inflammation of the prostate
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Vasectomy

Prostate Cancer Signs and Symptoms

In its early stages, prostate cancer has no symptoms. As prostate cancer grows, it may bring the following signs and symptoms:

  • Problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night.
  • Blood in the urine
  • Trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Pain in the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer spread to bones
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord.

Other conditions can also cause many of these same symptoms. For example, trouble urinating is much more often caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) than cancer. Still, it’s important to tell your doctor if you have any of these problems so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.

Prostate Cancer Screening

The best way to detect prostate cancer in its early stages is with regular digital prostate (rectal) exams and prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood tests.

Committed to leading edge cancer diagnostics, Torrance Memorial offers digital prostate exams and PSA blood test for those concerned about having prostate cancer or who want to be monitored actively.

Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Since it frequently has no symptoms, most prostate cancers are first found during an annual physical exam or screening. A PSA blood test may provide indicate the possible presence of prostate cancer or a physician may detect it with a digital rectal exam (DRE). In this test, a gloved, lubricated finger is inserted into the rectum to feel for any bumps or hard areas on the prostate, which may be signs of cancer.

A higher than normal PSA test result or abnormalities discovered during the DRE may lead your doctor to order a prostate biopsy to find out whether the cancer really exists.

Prostate cancer diagnosis is usually done with a core needle biopsy. In this test, the doctor quickly inserts a thin, hollow needle through the wall of the rectum into the prostate. Many patients prefer to have the area numbed with a local anesthetic prior to the procedure, which takes approximately 10 minutes.

Prostate Cancer Treatment

Depending on its stage, treatment of prostate cancer may include a single therapy or some combination of surgery, radiation therapy and hormone therapy.

At the forefront of prostate cancer treatment, Torrance Memorial’s specialists offer advanced, personalized treatment for each patient. This may include:

Radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland, seminal vessels and sometimes some lymph nodes) is the standard treatment for aggressive prostate cancer. At Torrance Memorial, radical prostatectomy is typically performed using the minimally invasive da Vinci Surgical System. This approach works as well as traditional open surgery, but with less blood loss, lower risk of complications, faster healing and a quicker recovery.

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