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What is prostate cancer?

Video: What Is Prostate Cancer?

Dr. Larry Bans, an urologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Western Regional Medical Center, explains what prostate cancer is and how it is diagnosed.

Listen to Dr. Bans explain the characteristics of prostate cancer, a malignancy that forms in the prostate gland. He says the typical process for diagnosing prostate cancer may include a physical exam, a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, imaging scans and a biopsy.  

View transcript

Larry Bans: I’m Dr. Larry Bans, I’m a urologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Prostate cancer is a cancer that begins in the prostate. There are different types of prostate cancers, there are different grades, and there are different types of cancers in terms of their aggressiveness. But prostate cancer specifically is a malignancy that begins in the prostate gland, and has the potential to spread elsewhere in the body. Prostate cancer is a very common illness. It’s estimated that one in six American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Prostate cancer is diagnosed typically by biopsy of the prostate. It doesn’t always have to be that way but the vast majority is actually done with a transrectal ultrasound probe, where the prostate is imaged, and at the same time the urologist can actually take a biopsy of the prostate, through the rectal wall, and that will be then sent to the pathologist who will make the diagnosis. Traditionally, the physical examination has been very important, so the digital rectal examination is critical in feeling for prostate cancer. PSA, or prostate specific antigen, has been around for over twenty years now, and it’s important in developing suspicion that there might be underlying prostate cancer. It is not an absolute diagnostic tool, however, there can be false positives and false negatives with the prostate specific antigen. So basically physical examination, PSA blood tests, and then imaging of the prostate, whether it be ultrasound or MRI, eventually followed by biopsy which is the only way to specifically make the diagnosis.

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