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Advancements in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Cancer

September 20, 2019

Advancements in cancer treatment continue to evolve, with significant progress made in the area of prostate cancer. In recognition of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September, Ashley Ross, M.D., Ph.D., urologist at Texas Urology Specialists–Plano and Texas Center for Proton Therapy shares the latest on prostate cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

How common is prostate cancer in the United States, and what can men do to prevent it?

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer and the second highest cause of cancer death in American men. Some risk factors for prostate cancer cannot be controlled, such as family history or genetic predisposition, but there are lifestyle choices that may decrease the chance of developing the disease. Maintaining a healthy weight and a diet that is low in charred meats and that contains lycopenes – found in tomatoes, for example – are good first steps. The best way to avoid prostate cancer or detect it early? Get screened.

How has the prostate screening process advanced over the years?

Prostate cancer screening has become more sophisticated. If there is suspicion that a man has prostate cancer, multi-parametric MRI, which is an advanced type of MRI, can determine if a biopsy is needed. It can also tell us where the biopsy is needed. Using this method can allow up to 30 percent of men to safely avoid an unnecessary biopsy while also diagnosing 10 percent more clinically significant prostate cancers.

Is there anything you would like to tell patients during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month?

Recent years have seen great advances in how we diagnose and treat prostate cancer. The best evidence overwhelmingly supports the use of MRI in the diagnosis and evaluation of localized diseases, while positron emission tomography (PET) imaging has also come into prime time for the identification of recurrent or progressive diseases. 

Advancements in technology also make radiation therapy safer for patients. For example, for cancer in advanced stages, we have learned that early intensification of therapy is beneficial. Finally, we better understand the genetics and molecular biology of prostate cancer, and this has led to the development of new therapies currently being tested in clinical trials.

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