Prostate Cancer Care

Expert care from compassionate experts

Prostate Cancer Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham

Prostate cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers in American men. Only skin cancer affects more males. While the disease is common, it’s often curable if found and treated early.  
At BID Needham, we offer expert screening, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. Our urology and cancer specialists work together to help you get the care you need. Offering a full range of cancer treatments — as well as cancer support and survivorship services — we’re at your side, ready to help.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

In its early stages, prostate cancer usually doesn’t cause symptoms. If present, you might experience:

  • A frequent need to urinate.
  • Blood in your urine or semen.
  • Difficulty getting an erection.
  • Difficulty passing urine.
  • Pain in your lower back, hips or upper thighs.
  • Pain or burning during urination.
  • Weak urine flow or flow that starts and stops.

If you have these symptoms, they don’t necessarily mean you have cancer. But it is important to discuss these issues with your provider.

Prostate Cancer Screening

Because symptoms are rare with early prostate cancer, screening may help you find the disease before you develop symptoms. This can be important if you have a cancer that’s likely to spread. Talking with your doctor may help you decide if screening is right for you. If so, there are two main screening tests.

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test

A PSA test is a blood test. It measures a substance that’s made by your prostate gland. High levels of this substance can be a sign of prostate cancer.

Digital Rectal Exam

During a digital rectal exam (DRE), your health care provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum. This makes it possible to feel your prostate gland. Lumps or bumps might indicate cancer.

Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

If your provider thinks you might have prostate cancer, they may recommend a prostate biopsy. This involves passing a needle into your prostate and collecting cells from the gland. A pathologist then examines the cells under a microscope to look for signs of cancer. If the disease is present, the pathologist studies the cells to learn more about whether the cancer is likely to spread in your body. This helps determine how to best treat your disease.

Prostate Cancer Treatment

Treatment for prostate cancer depends on your specific cancer and your preferences. Your health care providers will work with you to determine the treatment or treatments likely to be best for you.

Active Surveillance or Watchful Waiting
  • Active surveillance involves using the results of ongoing tests, including additional PSA tests and DREs to monitor your cancer. If your PSA levels increase or a DRE suggests your prostate cancer is getting worse, doctors then initiate treatment.
  • Watchful waiting involves monitoring your condition and providing treatment only if signs or symptoms develop. Because prostate cancer is often slow-growing, watchful waiting may be a good option if you’re older and your cancer isn’t initially causing problems.

Prostatectomy is a type of cancer surgery to remove your prostate gland. In some cases, robotic surgery is recommended, allowing for extreme precision. We may coordinate this care with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy may include external beam radiation therapy and Cyberknife or internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy). Radiation helps kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.

Hormone Therapy

Male hormones help prostate cancer grow. This includes testosterone that comes from your testicles and, in small amounts, your adrenal glands. Medication, surgery or other types of hormones may prevent or limit the effects these male hormones have on your cancer.


Chemotherapy involves the use of medication to attack cancer cells.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Is the Prostate Located?

A man’s prostate gland is located in front of his rectum, under his bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder outside the body.

What Is the Function of the Prostate?

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It’s about the size of a walnut. The gland helps make seminal fluid. During ejaculation, this fluid helps carry sperm outside the body as part of semen.

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Cancer begins in cells, which are the building blocks of the body’s tissues. Tissues make up organs. Normally, cells grow and divide to make new cells as the body needs them. When normal cells are damaged or grow old, they die and new cells take their place.

Cancer occurs when new cells form when your body doesn’t need them, or old and damaged cells don’t die as they should. This buildup of extra cells forms a mass called a tumor. Prostate cancer occurs when a tumor forms in or on the surface of the prostate. Usually, this happens in men older than 65 years of age. What causes it to happen isn’t entirely clear.

How Does Prostate Cancer Spread?

Cancer cells can spread by breaking away from a prostate tumor. They enter your blood vessels or lymph nodes (part of your immune system), which branch into all of the tissues throughout your body. The cancer cells can attach to these other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage the tissues. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.

Are Prostate Growths Always Due to Cancer?

No. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a noncancerous growth of prostate cells. This condition causes the prostate to grow larger and squeeze the urethra. It prevents the normal flow of urine. Most men older than 50 have symptoms of BPH. Sometimes they’re severe enough to require treatment. Learn more about an enlarged prostate.

Make an Appointment

To speak with a member of our prostate cancer team, please call.