Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer

This year in the United States, more than 240,000 men will learn they have prostate cancer. With the help of Green Bay Oncology, many in Northeast Wisconsin will also learn they’ve overcome it.

Prostate cancer is a serious disease, the most commonly found cancer type in men other than skin cancer and the second leading cancer-causing death behind lung cancer. But there is good news: When detected early, there is a high success rate for survival. There are over 2 million prostate cancer survivors living in the U.S.

And in Northeast Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula, no one has a stronger record of prostate cancer treatment success than Green Bay Oncology.

In addition to having more cancer-fighting doctors and more depth of experience than any other provider in the region, Green Bay Oncology is one of only two participants in the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program. That means we’re able to conduct national-level clinical trials for prostate cancer right here in our communities. To find out more about clinical trials and all of our prostate cancer treatment options, schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

Prostate cancer diagnosis

In its earlier stages, prostate cancer may cause a frequent need to urinate. The flow may be weak or interrupted, even painful. At this stage, PSA measurement and prostate ultrasound will give the best information. Men with more advanced-stage disease may notice blood in the urine or semen, and bony pain (especially in the back, hips or pelvis).

In these instances, bone scans, CT scans and MRIs are needed to determine which areas of the body have been affected by the cancer.

In younger men, the prostate is about the size of a walnut. However, non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate is very common as men enter middle-age. This is why physicians can’t tell if an enlarged prostate is benign or cancerous without the help of blood tests and ultrasound.

Screening recommendations have very recently changed. Previously, screening was recommended for all men over a certain age. But a careful review of decades of patient data shows this approach leads to over-diagnosis, over-treatment – and doesn’t save lives.

Since 2012, PSA and digital rectal exam are NO LONGER RECOMMENDED routinely in average-risk men. Screening is only recommended for men at high risk of prostate cancer (particularly those with a strong family history).

All men over age forty should discuss the pros and cons of screening for prostate cancer with their primary care physicians, and make a joint decision based on individual risk. One size definitely doesn’t fit all with regards to screening for prostate cancer.

To learn more about prostate cancer diagnosis, we recommend the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and American Society of Clinical Oncology.

For the most advanced prostate cancer treatment program in the area, schedule a consultation with one of our specialists.

Why does prostate cancer occur?

The vase majority of cases occur in men over age 50, who have no family history of the disease. In other words, we can’t usually identify a cause in most cases.

But there are several factors that seem to increase the risk.

Genetics: Men with fathers or uncles who’ve had prostate cancer are at higher risk of developing it themselves. Researchers have yet to identify the genes responsible for this hereditary pattern.

Lifestyle: Cigarette smoking and obesity increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Diet: High intake of red meat, and dairy increase prostate cancer risk. A diet low in vegetables (<14 servings per week) also increases prostate cancer risk.

Vitamin supplements haven’t been shown to decrease the risk of prostate cancer – and in fact there’s some data to suggest that high-dose multivitamins might actually increase the risk of prostate cancer.

How is prostate cancer treated?

Not all prostate cancers are dangerous. Some cancers are so slow-growing that they may never need treatment. For low-risk, early-stage disease your doctor may recommend a “wait and watch” approach, with regular tests and possible biopsies to monitor the progress of the cancer.

If expert consultation and treatment are recommended, Green Bay Oncology offers several options, including surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy – all tailored to your individual case.


When the disease has not spread beyond the prostate gland (but is at high risk to eventually do so), a robotic-assisted surgery called radical prostatectomy is one treatment option. This technique offers shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times than traditional surgery. In some cases, hormone therapy is needed in addition to surgery. Learn more about surgery for prostate cancer.

Radiation Therapy:

Radiation therapy  is another option for treating cancer still contained within the prostate. This technique uses high-powered energy to attack cancerous cells. Radiation can be used alone or in combination with hormone therapy. Learn more about radiation therapy for prostate cancer.

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) – A machine outside of the body focuses beams of radiation on the prostate gland. Treatment usually involves visits to our clinic 5 days a week for up to two months. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, and the procedure is painless.

Internal radiation therapy (Brachytherapy) – This technique implants radioactive seeds about the size of a grain of rice directly into the prostate. This technique might be preferred in certain specific situations or early stage disease – but it’s invasive, technically challenging, and less recommended than in the past.

Hormone Therapy:

Prostate cancer cells – just like normal prostate cells, survive best in the presence of testosterone. Reducing a man’s testosterone production can effectively treat all but the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer.  It may  used along with radiation, or is surgery isn’t completely successful. Hormone therapy is most often given as an injection, but in men with recurrent or metastatic prostate cancer it may also be given in pill form.  Learn more about hormone therapy.


Chemotherapy is  used most often in aggressive prostate cancer, especially when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasized). These medications are generally given by injection, and have more side effects than other treatments. Learn more about using chemotherapy to treat prostate cancer.

Clinical Trials:

New treatment options are continually being developed. As the region’s only participant in the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program, we conduct national-level clinical trials right here in our communities and help to identify new ways to detect, diagnose, and treat prostate cancer.

Types of treatment by stage of prostate cancer

Staging indicates the advancement and severity of a patient’s cancer. Our physicians will use this information to determine the appropriate course of treatment.

stage 1

Stage 1 – Prostate cancers are small and have not spread outside of the prostate.

Stage 1 cancers are usually very slow growing and may never cause any symptoms. When treatment is advised, it is often radiation therapy or robotics-assisted radical prostatectomy.

stage 2

Stage 2 – Prostate cancers are larger but not spread outside of the prostate .

Stage 2 cancers usually require either surgery or radiation to prevent them from spreading beyond the prostate. Hormone therapy is sometimes used for a short period of time.

stage 3

Stage 3 – Prostate cancer cells have spread outside of the prostate gland but have not affected the bladder or rectum.

Stage 3 cancers have not yet spread to the lymph nodes or other organs. They are more likely to recur and require treatment, like radiation, hormone therapy or surgery.

stage 4

Stage 4 – Prostate cancer cells have spread to nearby organs, to lymph nodes or to distant areas.

Stage 4 cancers have affected other parts of the body, including organs and bones. Stage 4 cancers usually incurable, but treatment can significantly improve and prolong life. Treatment options include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation.


For more information on prostate cancer and related treatment options, we recommend the following resources: