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If you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Over 10% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, making this one of the most common cancers in men. We’re here to help you get answers, understand your options and guide you through every step of your treatment. And with modern cancer centers across the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin, convenient, comfortable care is always close to home.
At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we know that effectively treating cancer goes beyond just the physical symptoms. We make sure you get the expert care you need for your physical, mental and emotional health with the latest in evidenced-based medicine, surgical techniques, advanced treatment options, research and integrative therapies. Our urologists, oncologists and other specialists work as a team to provide comprehensive care for even the most complex types of prostate cancer. We’ll create a personalized treatment plan with the best treatment options for you, which might include surgery, radiation or immunotherapy.
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that starts in a man’s prostate gland. The prostate is a small gland about the size of a walnut that’s located between the bladder and the penis. It’s part of the male reproductive system and produces fluid that protects the sperm.
Scientists still don’t know what causes prostate cancer, but they do know that it’s usually a slow growing cancer. If it’s detected early, there’s a higher chance of successful treatment.
Early prostate cancer doesn’t cause symptoms. The best way to catch prostate cancer is with regular screenings. Screenings are often recommended for men starting at age 50. Talk with your primary care doctor about when you should start having prostate screenings.
A prostate cancer screening includes a physical examination of the prostate called a digital rectal exam (DRE). During a DRE, your doctor will use their finger to feel your prostate and check for any abnormalities.
If we notice something out of the ordinary during one of your regular screenings, we might recommend one of the following tests:
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein made by the prostate gland. It’s normal to have some PSA in your blood, but higher amounts of PSA might indicate a higher risk of prostate cancer. However, high levels of PSA don’t always mean cancer, there are other conditions that can elevate the levels of PSA in the blood such as an enlarged prostate.
During a PSA blood test, we’ll draw a small amount of blood to be tested in the lab. If high levels of PSA are found, we’ll talk to you about the next steps, which may include further testing.
If your PSA levels are high, we might recommend a prostate biopsy. During a biopsy, a small sample of your prostate tissue is removed and examined in a lab. We’ll use local anesthesia during the biopsy to keep you as comfortable as possible. This test can confirm a cancer diagnosis, help determine the extent of the cancer and the likelihood that it will grow quickly.
Advancements in cancer research have found that each person’s response to cancer treatment is unique. We recognize that no two people will respond to treatment in the same way, so we work closely with you to create a personalized treatment plan. Depending on the severity of your cancer, a combination of several types of treatment options may be needed. Our urologists and oncologists will work together to find the most effective combination for you. Some common treatment options include:
Because prostate cancer can grow so slowly, we might recommend active surveillance. This means that we will monitor the cancer with regular tests. If we notice that the cancer has grown or might spread, we will recommend further treatment options. Active surveillance may be selected for low grade, small volume cancers in older men and is most commonly used when prostate cancer is detected early.
Sometimes, removing the prostate, called a radical prostatectomy, is the most effective treatment option. This procedure removes cancer cells by removing the prostate and some surrounding tissue. General anesthesia is used during surgery to keep you as comfortable as possible. Our expert urologists can perform even the most complex surgeries, including robotic-assisted surgeries. We’ll talk to you about which surgeries or procedures are recommended for your condition, answer your questions and help you prepare.
Radiation therapy uses beams of intense energy to destroy cancer cells or slow their growth in affected areas of the body. Cancer cells can’t heal from damage caused by radiation like normal cells are able to. Radiation therapy can be used alone or along with other treatments like surgery or chemotherapy.
Cryotherapy is a procedure where extremely cold temperatures are used to freeze and destroy cancer cells. During this procedure, we’ll place a small, metal tool inside the prostate and dispense a freezing liquid. The other parts of your body will be protected during the procedure so that only cells in the prostate are effected. We’ll use an ultrasound to locate and target cancer cells and limit the amount of healthy prostate tissue effected by the procedure.
A male hormone called testosterone is often necessary for prostate cancer to grow. Medications that decrease testosterone levels, sometimes called androgen suppression therapy, are used to decrease the levels of testosterone in the body. Androgen suppression therapy can shrink cancerous tissue or slow its growth. This treatment may be used in combination with other treatments like chemotherapy or radiation.
Chemotherapy, often called “chemo,” uses strong drugs to kill cancerous cells. It’s commonly used to shrink tumors or stop them from growing. Systemic chemotherapy medicines are taken orally or through an IV. It treats cancer cells throughout your entire body and might be recommended if cancer has spread.
This relatively new treatment, sometimes called biotherapy, uses medicines that kick-start your body’s natural immune response to cancer. There are different types of immunotherapy treatments. Some give your immune system an overall boost and some help your immune system specifically target cancer cells. Immunotherapy is often used alongside other treatment options for the best results.
During your cancer treatment, we help make sure that you and your family feel as comfortable and supported as possible. To do this, we offer a wide-range of services as part of personalized treatment plans, including:
Integrative therapies are supporting treatments some people choose to have in addition to their cancer treatments. They’re used to reduce the side effects of cancer treatments and improve your overall emotional and spiritual well-being. Common types of integrative therapies include massage, healing touch, reflexology, music therapy and acupuncture.
Good nutrition is needed to support the increased demands on your body while you heal. The benefits include preserving muscle mass, a healthy immune system, fewer complications and a better quality of life. We’ll recommend different nutrition guidelines to you depending on your type of cancer, stage of cancer or treatment plan. Our registered nutritionists can provide nutrition counseling to help with managing weight changes, dealing with side effects of treatment and navigating nutrition recommendations.
Cancer develops by chance, but people with a family history of cancer might be at a higher risk. It’s possible to have a gene mutation that can be passed from generation to generation. A genetic counselor can meet with you to go over your personal or family history of cancer and help you understand your hereditary risks. If you have questions about genetic counseling or want to know if genetic counseling is right for you, please ask your care team.
Cancer can change the way your body functions. What used to be easy might become more difficult because of fatigue, joint pain, stiffness, weakness, numbing or swelling. Some people might even develop difficulty thinking, balancing, speaking or swallowing. Cancer rehabilitation is a type of treatment that helps you improve your function and ability to do daily activities. We’ll recommend the best treatments for you, which may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and others.
We provide a specialty pharmacy that’s staffed by pharmacists who are experts in cancer medications. Because our pharmacy is fully integrated with our cancer treatment centers, our pharmacists are able to work closely with your treatment team. This helps to make sure you get the special medications you need to treat and manage cancer. Our team will help you understand the cost of your medication and help you with your insurance.
The Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) has recognized us as a specialty pharmacy with a Distinction in Oncology.
It’s possible for anyone who has a prostate to develop prostate cancer, but there are some factors that put you at higher risk.
- Age – Men 65 and older are more likely to develop prostate cancer.
- Family history – Having a family history of prostate cancer might increase your risk.
- Race – Men who are African American are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
Many of our patients are able to participate in clinical trials if they meet the requirements. Take a look at our current clinical trials and learn more about our ongoing cancer research.
Many different board-certified doctors, nurses, technologists and other medical professionals will work with you to make sure you’re getting the care you need during every step of your treatment.
Depending on your type and stage of prostate cancer, you might work with:
- Urologists – Doctors who specialize in treating the urinary and male reproductive systems. They can provide surgical and medical treatments for prostate cancer.
- Medical oncologists – Doctors who specialize in using medications, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and other procedures to treat cancer.
- Radiation oncologists – Doctors who specialize in using radiation to treat cancer.
We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.
Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.
Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are the member services numbers to help you get started:
- HealthPartners: 800-883-2177
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota: 800-382-2000
- CIGNA: 800-244-6224 (insurance through work); 866-494-2111 (insurance directly or through the Exchange)
- Medica: 800-952-3455
- Medicare: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
- PreferredOne: 763-847-4477 (in the Twin Cities); 800-997-1750 (outside the metro area)
- United Healthcare: 877-842-3210