What Is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer occurs when cells grow abnormally in the prostate gland to form tumors. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located in front of the rectum and under the bladder that secretes the fluid that carries sperm.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, excluding skin cancer. About 233,000 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2014, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Fortunately, prostate cancer has a very high success rate when discovered early.

More than 90% of all prostate cancers are discovered while they are either localized (confined to the prostate) or regional (nearby). The five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with prostate tumors discovered at these stages is nearly 100%.

Choosing an experienced doctor and the right cancer center can maximize your chances of a successful outcome and help preserve your quality of life, including sexual function. At Stanford, our Urologic Cancer team includes leading prostate cancer specialists who have extensive experience treating early-stage to advanced prostate cancers.

Prostate cancer expertise

The Stanford Urologic Cancer program offers comprehensive treatment services for prostate cancer patients in a supportive setting.

Our doctors work closely with you to develop customized treatment plans, using sophisticated diagnostic imaging, advanced radiation therapy procedures, and innovative drug therapies. In addition, our surgical oncologists perform hundreds of radical and robotic prostate surgeries annually, offering a distinct advantage over smaller programs.

Stanford addresses the psycho-social aspect of prostate cancer as well, with programs that include both patients and families.

Program highlights include:

  • Multispecialty tumor board of urologic experts who review complex cases and provide treatment plans
  • Genetic profiling of tumor tissue to guide treatment options
  • Nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy, which helps maintains sexual function
  • Minimally invasive and robotic surgery, which allows for greater precision, fewer incisions and quicker recovery time
  • Advanced diagnostic methods, including the MRI-ultrasound fusion biopsy, which increases the chance of detecting prostate cancer in real time
  • Immunotherapies—such as Provenge—for castration-resistant prostate cancer
  • New discoveries in the hedgehog signaling pathway, which have led to novel investigational therapies
  • Clinical trials with novel therapeutics
  • Monthly urologic cancer support groups, which feature lectures, treatment updates and interactive panels between doctors and patients

Clinical Trials

Stanford's team of urologic experts is actively engaged in cutting edge research and clinical trials designed to improve prostate cancer detection, treatment and quality of life.

Highlights include:

  • Molecular analysis of prostate tumors that may enhance treatment decisions
  • Hedgehog signaling pathway discoveries that have led to the development of novel therapies
  • Experimental anti-androgen hormone therapies that have recently been shown to increase patient survival
  • Quality of life studies, including urinary incontinence
  • Active surveillance studies

Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.

Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.

Before beginning treatment, ask your doctor about any clinical trials you should consider. Learn more about clinical trials for cancer patients.

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