Prostate Cancer

Expert Care and Treatment for Genitourinary Cancers

The Lank Center includes medical, urologic, and radiation oncologists who treat patients with prostate, kidney, bladder, and testicular cancer, as well as adrenocortical carcinoma.

Your care team will collaborate to develop a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan that offers the most advanced therapies and an array of supportive resources. 

Genitourinary Cancer Treatment Center

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer forms in the tissues of the prostate, a male gland just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 50 years of age, and the chance of developing prostate cancer increases as men get older. In the United States, a man has a one in five chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. 

The prostate is small in size (about the size of a walnut) and surrounds the urethra. The prostate gland produces fluid that makes up a portion of semen.

Signs and Symptoms 

Symptoms may not appear during the early stages of prostate cancer, and most symptoms of prostate cancer vary from person to person. Having these symptoms does not mean you have prostate cancer. 

Common prostate cancer signs and symptoms may include: 

  • Weak or interrupted ("stop-and-go") urine flow 
  • Sudden or frequent urge to urinate 
  • Trouble urinating or starting the flow of urine 
  • Trouble emptying the bladder completely 
  • Trouble holding back urination 
  • Pain or burning urination 
  • Blood in the urine or semen 
  • Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn't go away 
  • Shortness of breath, feeling very tired, an accelerated heartbeat, dizziness, or pale skin caused by anemia 
  • Difficulty having an erection 

Some of the symptoms listed above may occur with a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH occurs when the prostate enlarges and interferes with urine flow or sexual function. BPH is not cancer, but surgery may be needed to correct it. The symptoms of BPH or other problems in the prostate mimic the symptoms of prostate cancer. 


Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Dana-Farber's Mark Pomerantz, MD, talks about the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, including information about risk factors, PSA screening, and more.

Center for BRCA and Related Genes

Mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, and BRCA-related genes confer increased risk of certain cancers when inherited. These mutations can also be acquired by the cancers themselves. The Center for BRCA and Related Genes provides comprehensive care for patients with inherited and acquired mutations, including clinical therapeutic trials, trials of risk-reducing strategies, and studies of novel early detection markers.

Risk Factors 

Risk factors for prostate cancer may include: 

  • Being an older male 
  • Family history of prostate cancer 
  • Being African-American 
  • Hormones: The prostate needs male hormones, such as testosterone, to function properly. Testosterone helps men develop and maintain male sex characteristics. DHT, a derivative of testosterone, is important for normal prostate growth but can also cause the prostate to enlarge, which may play a part in the development of prostate cancer. 
  • Regular vitamin E intake 
  • Not consuming enough folic acid (folate) 
  • A diet high in fat or dairy 


To diagnose prostate cancer, or to see if the cancer has spread, these tests may be performed: 

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE) 
  • A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test that measures the level of PSA in the blood 
  • Rectal ultrasound 
  • Biopsy 

Learn details about how we diagnose prostate cancer


Treatment plans depend largely on the health and future reproductive wishes of the patient. Other factors, such as the expected side effects of treatment and previous treatment for prostate cancer, may alter the available treatment options. 

Treatments for prostate cancer may include: 

  • Surgery 
    • Open prostatectomy (often with nerve-sparing techniques) 
    • Minimally-invasive laparoscopic robotic surgery 
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) 
  • Brachytherapy 
  • Active surveillance 
  • Hormone therapy 
  • Immunotherapy 

Learn details about how we treat prostate cancer


Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer survive the disease. However, the chance of recovery (prognosis) depends on: 

  • Patient's age 
  • The stage of the disease 
  • Level of PSA in the blood 
  • Gleason score, a test that evaluates prostate cancer on a cellular level to determine how aggressive the disease is 
  • Whether the disease is newly diagnosed or recurrent; recurrent cases are more difficult to treat 


The Metastatic Prostate Cancer Project

"Count Me In" is a nonprofit organization aiming to partner patients directly with researchers for a number of cancers, including metastatic prostate cancer. To learn more, visit

Prostate Cancer Research Links Spread of Disease to Epigenetics

Matthew Freedman, MD, details a prostate cancer study in Nature Genetics that links metastasis to the revival of a molecular program that went dormant during fetal development. Story published on July 20th, 2020 in Nature Genetics.

Why Choose Us

When you come to the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, you are cared for by compassionate and experienced leaders in their field, who put your well-being and treatment first. Our multidisciplinary team of experts provides the safest, most effective therapies to treat your prostate cancer, while minimizing the side effects of treatment. We work closely with you to personalize your care every step of the way. 

The internationally recognized doctors and researchers in our Genitourinary Oncology Program use leading-edge techniques and conduct innovative studies and clinical trials to improve outcomes for all prostate cancer patients. Our team, which includes urologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, nurses, and support staff, goes beyond treating the disease; they are devoted to every prostate cancer patient and family member. 

We provide comprehensive services to patients with these cancers, including:   

  • Personalized treatment plans tailored to your specific cancer 
  • A nationally recognized research team who precisely identify cancer cells using a clinical database of over 8,000 genitourinary cancer samples 
  • Advanced molecular pathology techniques used to identify tumors and plan treatment 
  • Radiation therapy techniques using image guidance to precisely target prostate tumors 
  • Access to clinical trials for all stages of prostate cancer, some of which may not be available elsewhere 
  • Innovative treatments, including clinical trials of targeted and combination therapies, and robotic surgery and reconstructive techniques 
  • Multidisciplinary care delivered by specialists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital