Our Approach

Patients who come to the Siteman Cancer Center for diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer are seen by a team of Washington University Physicians — surgical, medical and radiation oncologists — often during the same visit.  A health psychologist is also available as needed. Experienced nurses then spend time with you, answering your prostate cancer treatment questions and putting you in touch with resources that may help during this stressful time. These nurses offer patient literature on your condition, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and other related issues on cancer care. As a unique feature of your care, we also offer the services of a palliative care specialist who can help you fit treatment into your own special circumstances, if needed.

Prostate cancer will affect 1 in 5 men over their lifetime and is the most common cancer seen at Siteman, on average 705 cases a year. Our prostate cancer program is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

Our physicians pioneered the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test as a tool for early prostate cancer detection.  They conducted the world’s largest single-institution prostate cancer screening study with more than 32,000 men, and they led the NCI-funded PLCO cancer screening trial. They also have successfully confirmed the free PSA test for improving the accuracy of prostate cancer detection.

With this experience in early diagnosis, they frequently handle problem cases in which a patient’s PSA level may be elevated, though initial biopsies do not uncover cancer as the cause for the elevation.

Our urologists are renowned for performing nerve-sparing (and potency-preserving) radical prostatectomies, in which small tumors can be removed with fewer long-term side effects. They have completed thousands of these operations, making our team one of the most experienced in the U.S. Rates of cure and sexual potency and urinary continence associated with this technique are generally higher in patients treated at Siteman.

Newer drugs, including new hormonal and biological therapies, fight prostate cancer by taking away cancer cells’ ability to spread through new tissues or form new blood vessels. They have pioneered studies of effective chemotherapy treatment for patients with advanced prostate cancer.

Siteman also was the first medical center in the region to perform brachytherapy, or radioactive seed implantation, for prostate cancer. The seeds emit radiation for several weeks and remain permanently and harmlessly in place.

Types of treatment used for prostate cancer depend on the stage at which it is diagnosed, whether the cancer has spread outside the prostate gland, the patient’s age and personal wishes. Most men who get prostate cancer do not die of it.

Washington University Physicians at Siteman are actively involved in clinical trials that investigate new chemotherapy regimens, and other approaches to cure. Having your prostate cancer treated at Siteman gives you access to new therapies that are as good as – or potentially better than – current standard therapies available elsewhere.