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Treatment of Prostate Cancer: The Importance of a Multidisciplinary Approach

October 09, 2013

A prostate cancer diagnosis can often come as a surprise because many patients do not experience any symptoms prior to their diagnosis. A simple, routine visit to the doctor may reveal an elevated level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which is a protein produced inside the prostate gland. Typically, an elevated PSA level prompts a referral to a urologist, who will then perform a prostate biopsy. All too often, a prostate biopsy can result in a diagnosis of prostate cancer without any forewarning.

In other types of cancers, certain symptoms may be present early on. These signs may include a detected breast lump during a self-exam, the presence of blood when coughing, rectal bleeding or a change in bowel habits. While these signs can alert you to a possible underlying condition, many men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer often have no warning.

Even in the absence of symptoms, prostate cancer can be a serious medical condition. In fact, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed tumor and the second most common cause of tumor death among men in the United States. Prostate cancer may be advanced, meaning that it has already spread to the lymph nodes or bones, or it may be localized, indicating that it is confined within the prostate gland at the time of diagnosis.

There are several treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. On one end of the spectrum, radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy may be necessary. A specialist may also prescribe hormonal therapy, brachytherapy, cryotherapy or high-intensity focused ultrasound therapy. On the other end of the spectrum, a doctor may simply recommend active surveillance. In this case, aggressive treatment is deferred, and the patient is carefully monitored for disease progression.

With multiple treatment programs available, it is often stressful and daunting for patients to navigate and understand which option is best for their particular condition. Often times, a lack of patient education and awareness can lead to a “one-size-fits-all” treatment approach. The truth is, however, that each patient requires a unique treatment option that meets his specific needs.

At the UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health, all of our patients with newly diagnosed prostate cancer undergo a thorough multidisciplinary evaluation. This approach allows each patient to meet with an entire team of specialists, including a urologic, radiation and medical oncologist, all in one visit. During this meeting, patients have the opportunity to learn about each treatment option, clarify certain issues and ask questions with all members of the treatment team present.

A multidisciplinary approach optimizes the patient experience and emphasizes a consensus-driven approach to treatment planning. It also eliminates specialty-driven biases because the team jointly develops a treatment recommendation for the patient with all the necessary checks and balances.

This approach is what I have envisioned for the Central Florida community through the Orlando Health Urologic Cancer Center, which is currently based at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital. We have received positive feedback from patients who expressed that our multidisciplinary evaluation helped them to better understand their condition and the treatment program they elected to pursue.

Prostate cancer awareness is very important, not only due to the potential seriousness of the condition, but also because of the varied treatment options available. All too often, I see patients being rushed through a specific treatment plan in the absence of a multidisciplinary evaluation. If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and have not been adequately counseled on which treatment options are most appropriate for you, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Our team of experts will work with you to develop a personalized treatment program that meets your specific needs.