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Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland in males that uses male hormones called androgens, such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), to trigger and maintain male sex characteristics and reproduction. Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control.

Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about one man in nine will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.

In many cases, prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer that does not spread beyond the prostate gland before the time of diagnosis. However, some cases are more aggressive and need more urgent treatment. Prostate cancer that is detected early, when it is still confined to the prostate gland, has the best chance for successful treatment.

Researchers have found several factors that might affect a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer, including:

  • Age: your chance of developing prostate cancer rapidly increases after the age of 50, and roughly six in ten cases are found in men over the age of 65.
  • Race/ethnicity: prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in men of other races
  • Family history: in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor that can help indicate prostate cancer. If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, there is more than double the risk of developing this disease.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer Include:

  • Trouble Urinating
  • Decreased force in the stream of urine
  • Blood in your urine
  • Blood in your semen
  • Pain in your hips or back
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Weight Loss

Because these symptoms may overlap with those of other conditions, it is important to get the correct diagnosis to find the right treatment. To help determine the best option for you the American Cancer Society recommends prostate screenings.

What is a prostate screening?

As with all cancers, an important part of the treatment process is detecting the cancer as early as possible. Laurel Cancer Center recommends following the American Cancer Society’s guide for prostate cancer screening. The screening process will include the following:

  • A digital rectal exam
  • PSA blood draw

Typically, if an initial digital rectal exam comes back with abnormal results, the next step would be a PSA blood test followed by an imaging test of the prostate gland. Should your PSA levels be high, a prostate biopsy may be recommended as a follow up to the screening. A biopsy is a procedure in which small samples of the prostate are removed and then looked at under a microscope. If prostate cancer is found on a biopsy, this test can also help tell how likely it is that the cancer will grow and spread quickly.

If you are interested in getting a prostate screening, please fill out the form, and one of our team members will contact you to set up an appointment.

Veteran Community Care Program

Veterans may be eligible for prostate cancer care through Laurel Cancer Care depending on their health care needs or circumstances, and if they meet specific eligibility criteria. In most cases, Veterans must receive approval from VA before receiving care from a community provider to avoid being billed for the care. Check the eligibility requirements below to see if you are qualified.

Veteran needs a service not available at a VA medical facility

In this situation, a Veteran needs a specific type of care or service that VA does not provide in-house at any of its medical facilities. For example, if you are a female Veteran and need maternity care, you would be eligible for community care because VA does not provide maternity care in any of its medical facilities.

Veteran lives in a U.S. state or territory without a full-service VA medical facility

In this scenario, a Veteran lives in a U.S. state or territory that does not have a full-service VA medical facility.

Veteran qualifies under the "Grandfather" provision related to distance eligibility for VCP

For this element, there are a few different ways that a Veteran could be eligible for community care. Initially, there are two requirements that must be met in every case:

  1. Veteran was eligible under the 40-mile criterion under the Veterans Choice Program on the day before the VA MISSION Act was enacted into law (June 6, 2018), and
  2. Veteran continues to reside in a location that would qualify them under that criterion.

If both of these requirements have been met, a Veteran may be eligible if one of the following is also true:

  • Veteran lives in one of the five states with the lowest population density from the 2010 Census:
    North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Alaska, and Wyoming, or
  • Veteran:
    • lives in another state,
    • received care between June 6, 2017, and June 6, 2018, and
    • requires care before June 6, 2020.

For example, if you are a Veteran who has lived in Kansas since 2012, your home is 41 miles driving distance to the nearest VA medical facility with a full-time primary care physician, and you received VA care between June 6, 2017, and June 6, 2018, you would be eligible for community care until June 6, 2020.

VA cannot provide care within certain designated access standards

In this situation, VA is unable to schedule an appointment that is within both average driving time standards and wait time standards. For average drive time to a specific VA medical facility, the access standards are:

  • 30-minute average drive time for primary care, mental health, and non-institutional extended care services (including adult day health care)
  • 60-minute average drive time for specialty care

For appointment wait times at a specific VA medical facility, the access standards are:

  • 20 days for primary care, mental health care, and non-institutional extended care services, unless the Veteran agrees to a later date in consultation with their VA health care provider
  • 28 days for specialty care from the date of request, unless the Veteran agrees to a later date in consultation with their VA health care provider

For instance, if you are a Veteran and live 10 miles from the nearest VA primary care provider, but it takes you over an hour to drive there on average due to heavy traffic, you would be eligible for community care.

It is in the Veteran's best medical interest

In this situation, a Veteran may be referred to a community provider when the Veteran and the referring clinician agree that it is in the best medical interest to see a community provider.

For example, if you are a Veteran with a certain type of ovarian cancer that your VA oncologist is not experienced in treating, and you live close to a community medical facility where there is a specialist for that type of cancer, you could be eligible for community care if the clinician and patient agree that this treatment should be provided by the community medical facility.

A VA service line does not meet certain quality standards

In this scenario, if VA has identified a medical service line is not meeting VA’s standards for quality based on specific conditions, Veterans can elect to receive care from a community provider under certain limitations.

For example, if VA has identified that the cardiology service line at a local VA medical facility is not providing care that meets VA’s standards for quality, the Veteran may be able to elect to receive your cardiology care in the community. However, there may be limits on when, where, and what is available under this criterion.

How do we treat prostate cancer?

Radiation therapy for prostate cancer involves the use of high-energy beams or radioactive seeds to eliminate tumors. Which radiation therapy approach we recommend depends on the unique characteristics of your disease. We offer radiation therapy, either alone or in combination with androgen hormone deprivation therapy, to combat all stages of prostate cancer. In some cases, we use it as a primary treatment approach; in others, we use it after surgery if there are signs that your cancer has come back. In some circumstances, nonradioactive gold seed markers may be implanted in the prostate or prostate bed to help the radiation therapist accurately position your body during treatment. Treatments are scheduled Monday through Friday over the course of several weeks. In some cases, we can delivery higher doses of radiation in fewer treatments.

At Laurel Cancer Care, we deliver a fast and high-quality treatment with comfort and convenience. Our linear accelerator generates photons, or x-rays, that are used in the Image Guided Radiation Therapy delivery process. This linear accelerator uses a multi-leaf collimator to precisely aim the radiation at the tumor while avoiding damage to the normal, healthy cells.

Your treatment is custom-tailored and unique to your diagnosis, tumor size, location and involvement. Your radiation oncologist (a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiation) will review all available treatment options and recommend a personalized plan for you based on national guidelines, which guide all cancer treatments. Radiation therapy can be used either alone or in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery.

Benefits of Radiation Therapy:

  • Pain Free Treatment Delivery
  • Non-Invasive
  • Custom Tailored Treatment Plan
  • Little to No Side Effects
  • Immediate Return to Daily Activities
  • Minimal Radiation Exposure to Adjacent Healthy Tissue

What to Expect


Initial Scans

To create a customized treatment plan, you will have a CT or PET/CT scan to identify the exact location of your cancer.

Pre-Treatment Preparation

Ink marks or small tattoo-like dots will be placed on your skin in the area of the tumor to ensure the radiation is delivered to the tumor. The markings will be visible on your skin, but only in the area of the tumor and are permanent. They are designed to fade and will begin to disappear towards the end of your radiation treatments. Occasionally, the markings will have to be reapplied to your skin during treatment. It is very important that you do not scrub the markings during your bathing/showering. Your radiation therapist will discuss with you how to care for your skin during your treatments, including protecting the markings.

Radiation Treatment Scheduling

Radiation treatments happen Monday through Friday for a number of weeks, usually for 5-8 weeks. Weekend breaks, on Saturday and Sunday, allow your normal cells to recover and assist your healing process.

Treatment Room

Our radiation therapists will bring you from the waiting room, into the treatment room with the linear accelerator (radiation machine). The therapist will make you comfortable in the room and assist you in getting positioned on the treatment table.

Delivery Machine Setup

Two therapists will align the laser to the target on your skin, indicated by the “tattoo-like” markings. Alignment takes only a couple of minutes. The therapists will then leave the room to deliver and monitor your treatment.

Delivery of Radiation Therapy

During the treatment the machine will move over your body. You won’t feel anything. It’s much like having an x-ray. Sometimes the specific area of skin receiving treatment, can get tender and sunburned, your healthcare team will want to know if you are experiencing any burning or discomfort during your treatment. Your healthcare team will guide you with proper care of your skin. Typically the treatment takes about 10-15 minutes. The most common side effect of radiation therapy is fatigue – it is very important to get plenty of rest and adequate nutrition.

Post Treatment Followup

Generally, you will see your doctor weekly. However, we are always available if you need us.

Talk To A Team Member Today

We know you have a choice about where you get your cancer care but we hope you’ll choose us. Here are the top reasons why we believe Laurel Cancer Care is the best choice:

  • We use the most advanced therapies available.
  • Our doctor is specially trained and board certified. Meet Dr. L. Cameron Pimperl!
  • Our medical, technical and support staff are experts at what they do. Meet the team!
  • Our treatment plans follow national guidelines and are the same protocols as those used by the top academic cancer centers.
  • We work as a one team that is closely coordinated, with one focus.
  • We want everyone to feel like family.
  • We keep close tabs on your physical, mental and emotional well-being because we care about quality of life.
  • You get to stay close to home, surrounded by the love and support of your family and friends.