Diagnosing Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the US – second only to non-melanoma skin cancer. Prostate cancer is more common in men over age 50. There will be an estimated 174,650 new cases of prostate cancer in 2019, and about one in nine men will be diagnosed with it during his lifetime.1

MSK doctors have led pivotal studies that have changed the way prostate cancer is treated.

More than 90 percent of prostate cancers are found at an early stage when they're still within the prostate gland. Two tests commonly used to screen for prostate cancer are the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and the digital rectal exam (DRE). But neither test, either alone or in combination, can give you a certain diagnosis of prostate cancer. For that, Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) specialists need to:

  • do a comprehensive examination
  • perform a prostate biopsy
  • carry out an evaluation of risk factors, such as your family history of disease
  • conduct diagnostic imaging studies

Prostate Cancer Treatment at MSK

Prostate Cancer Treatment at MSK

The treatment options available to you depend on the nature of your prostate cancer. Men with prostate cancer generally fall into one of the following disease categories:

  • Slow-growing prostate cancer
  • Small, localized prostate tumor
  • Aggressive cancer that is at risk for spread to adjacent tissues
  • Cancer that has spread beyond the prostate

MSK's experts specialize in a number of treatment options, including:

  • Active surveillance, which is offered to patients whose cancer is caught at an early stage and is not at risk of spreading. Also known as watchful waiting, this approach allows certain patients to defer therapies like surgery or radiation and instead be carefully monitored with scans, blood tests, and other exams for changes in their disease that indicate the need for treatment
  • Minimally invasive surgical procedures, including laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgery
  • Salvage radical prostatectomy for men whose prostate cancer has returned after radiation therapy — a complex operation not offered at many hospitals
  • Cutting-edge radiotherapy approaches — including brachytherapy (seed implants), image-guided, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IGRT), and stereotactic radiosurgery (a faster, more effective alternative to CyberKnife) — safely delivered with pinpoint precision using advanced imaging techniques
  • Focal therapy, which includes a variety of noninvasive techniques used to destroy small tumors inside the prostate while leaving the remaining gland intact and sparing most of its normal tissue
  • Systemic therapies targeted to the biology of a person's prostate cancer—including chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy—for men whose disease has spread to other parts of the body

MSK researchers contributed to the successful development of the targeted drugs abiraterone acetate and enzalutamide for men with advanced prostate cancer. MSK is also the coordinating center for the Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium, a collaboration among 13 leading centers focused on early drug development and clinical trial design.

Many men treated for prostate cancer may experience significant side effects. Our follow-up care team offers strategies to help you overcome or cope with problems, maintain a good quality of life, and regain your sense of self. For men who experience changes in sexual and reproductive health, our Male Sexual and Reproductive Medicine Program can help you adjust to life during and after cancer treatment.

Access MSK Care, Close to Home

At MSK, you will receive advanced, comprehensive cancer care from an experienced and compassionate team of cancer specialists — as well as practical and emotional support — to meet your unique needs and circumstances.

Consistently ranked among the top hospitals for cancer care in the United States, MSK is well known for its hospital location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Men with prostate cancer can receive specialized outpatient care at MSK's Sidney Kimmel Center for Prostate and Urologic Cancers. Located across the street from MSK's inpatient hospital, the center offers expert treatment teams dedicated to providing customized, comprehensive care for men with prostate cancer, all under one roof. We offer support from the initial detection and diagnosis, through progressive treatment, to rehabilitation and follow-up care.

MSK also has a number of state-of-the-art outpatient facilities located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island, Westchester, and New Jersey, where you can receive the same outstanding cancer care closer to home.

For more information about treatment for prostate cancer, please visit

Learn More: Search by Cancer Type at MSK

1American Cancer Society. Key statistics for prostate cancer.

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