Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men and will be diagnosed in 1 in 7 men in their lifetime. 

At the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center, we can help you find a prostate cancer specialist quickly so it can be treated in its earliest stages. We are the only comprehensive cancer center in Wisconsin. This designation comes from the National Cancer Institute. It means we offer innovative treatments and clinical trials. It also speaks to our commitment to research, prevention and improving cancer care. 

Here, you get a personalized treatment plan. A skilled team of experts from multiple disciplines works with you to put this plan together while addressing all your needs. Together, we strive to make a challenging time easier and less stressful for you.

A close-up of a physician's hands holding a patient's hands
Genetic counseling
Addressing your cancer concerns

If you have a family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer, you might be at an increased risk of prostate cancer. Our genetic counselors can help you assess your personal risk. They also provide helpful information to people making decisions about cancer treatment and follow-up care.

Tests and symptoms

Finding prostate cancer

We usually find prostate cancer through screening tests or when you report symptoms of the disease.

Prostate cancer screening tests

There are several screening tests that can help find prostate cancer. Talking with your doctor is the best way to learn if these tests are right for you, and if so, when to have them.

Screening can find prostate cancer early, before you have symptoms. Early detection might help treatment work better. Prostate cancer can grow slowly for some and may be aggressive for others. Treatment comes with its own risks and should be personalized based on the severity of the cancer and your wishes. Some cancers do not require treatment and can be monitored.

Your health care provider can help you weigh the pros and cons of screening. Some of the tests we offer include:

This is a blood test that measures PSA. PSA is a protein produced in your prostate gland. Levels higher than normal may be a sign of prostate cancer, though other things can raise PSA levels as well.

Doctors sometimes use this test to get more information if your PSA level is high. It helps distinguish between PSA that’s attached to blood proteins and PSA that’s moving freely in your blood. When compared to men who don’t have prostate cancer, the percentage of unattached, or free PSA, is lower in men who do have the disease.

If other tests are suspicious, you might need a biopsy. A biopsy involves removing cells from your prostate gland and looking at them under a microscope to see if cancer is present. Most often, we remove the cells with a needle.

If other tests are suspicious, we have advanced imaging modalities including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to help find possible prostate cancer

This type of novel MRI is useful in detecting suspicious lesions in the prostate. The MRI image is then fused with an ultrasound image to help pinpoint questionable areas of the prostate for needle biopsy. This tool allows physicians to look at the prostate in real-time, via a 3D image. The 3D image clearly displays areas of suspicion that require biopsy. This clarity and precision helps eliminate the need to take multiple random biopsies. It also allows the physician to pinpoint exactly where they need to biopsy. Additionally, it can also help detect aggressive tumors that otherwise might have been missed.

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that allows your doctor to check for diseases in your body. The scan uses a special dye containing radioactive tracers.

Prostate cancer symptoms

It’s rare for early prostate cancer to cause symptoms. But as it advances, prostate cancer can cause: 

  • Difficult urination

  • Pain in your back, chest or hips 

  • Weight loss or loss of energy

If you have symptoms of prostate cancer or would like to talk with a health care provider about getting screened, please contact us.

A diverse group of four urological surgeons in an operating room
Achieving success one patient at a time

UW Health Urology is consistently ranked as one of the top urology programs in the nation. Although we perform thousands of complex procedures every year, the care we provide you is the most important.

Treatments and research

Helping you find the right treatment

There are many treatments for prostate cancer. Our team works together to decide which one is best for you.

Treatment decisions are highly individualized, and we do not believe in a "one-size-fits-all" approach.  Factors we consider is where cancer is in the body, genetic makeup of the cancer and the likelihood that your cancer will cause problems.

Depending on your circumstances, our goals include: 

  • Eliminating your cancer 

  • Improving your quality of life

  • Keeping your cancer from getting worse

  • Improving your quality of life

Prostate cancer treatments and research

In some cases, we recommend imaging tests to see the extent of your cancer.  We use advanced imaging methods to detect prostate cancer including axumin PET/CT, 3T prostate MRI, bone scan and multi-detector helical CT scans. These tools help us learn as much as we can about your cancer, so we can give you the best treatment plan tailored to you and your situation.

Prostate cancer often grows slowly and may not require any treatment. In some cases, we can watch it carefully and treat it only if it worsens. Frequent visits to your provider and medical tests are part of this process. 

Surgery to remove a cancerous prostate gland is common. It’s delicate surgery because nerves that help you maintain an erection are located near your prostate. Our surgeons have additional advanced training in these procedures. 

Our surgeons use robotic procedures to perform prostate surgery whenever possible. These procedures allow us to operate with great precision through very small openings in your abdomen. Compared to traditional open prostate surgery, robotic operations result in: 

  • Faster recovery and a quicker return to normal activities

  • Less blood loss and fewer blood transfusions 

  • Less pain 

  • Less scarring 

  • Reduced risk of infection 

  • A shorter hospital stay 

Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy. It involves implanting radioactive "seeds" directly into your prostate glands. These seeds help destroy the cancer. 

These treatments involve delivering radiation from outside the body. Radiation can kill cancer cells. We may use it as your main treatment or in conjunction with surgery. We may also use it if the cancer returns. Types of external beam radiation include:

  • Hypofractionated radiation therapy: This form of radiation is delivered in stronger doses but fewer treatments than were used in the past. UW Health is a leader in studying this approach. Evidence suggests it can improve cancer control and reduce side effects. 

  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): IMRT attacks cancer from different angles. We’re able to match the radiation to the size and shape of your tumor and avoid other areas. This is important because your prostate gland is located near your bladder, rectum and urethra — the tube that carries urine and semen out of your body. IMRT minimizes radiation exposure to healthy tissues. We often use imaging tests such as MRI or CT scans to guide this treatment. 

Immunotherapy uses your own immune system to attack cancer cells.

Genetically-targeted therapy is a treatment that uses drugs to target specific genes and proteins that are involved in the growth and survival of cancer cells.

Prostate cancer is fueled by male hormones (testosterone) to grow. By decreasing these hormone levels, we may be able to slow cancer growth, at least temporarily. There are several medicines we can use. Surgery to remove your testicles, where most male hormones are made, can also be an option.

Chemotherapy uses medications to attack cancer cells. It’s not a standard treatment for early prostate cancer, but we might recommend it in certain cases if the cancer has spread outside the prostate. Chemotherapy drugs travel throughout your bloodstream. As a result, they can reach cancer cells in most parts of your body.

Tomorrow's treatments might be here today

The UW Carbone Cancer has a world-renowned prostate cancer research program. We offer the most advanced detection and treatments available. But we believe there could be even better ways to provide prostate cancer care. We’re always looking for innovative approaches to prevent, detect and attack prostate cancer.

As our patient, you could have access to clinical trials that others might not. At the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center, you might find tomorrow’s treatments today.

Contact us if you’d like to talk about your options for prostate cancer treatment. We’re happy to assist you or offer a second opinion. Call Cancer Connect at (608) 262-5223.

Find a clinical trial

We invite you to explore active trials at UW Health and learn how to get involved.

Find a clinical trial

Jim's prostate cancer story

Jim is an active guy and didn’t want prostate cancer to slow him down. A robotic prostatectomy allowed him to return quickly to his active lifestyle. He spent just one day in the hospital and two weeks later, he was back at work.
Three sets of hands holding a yellow ribbon symbolizing cancer
UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center
Patient Guide

To help you feel comfortable during your stay at the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center, we invite you to learn about our facility and the services we offer.

Meet our team

We care for you — and about you

A team of prostate cancer experts will provide your care at the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center.

The team includes urologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists. Other specialists such as health psychologists, nutritionists, genetic counselors, advanced practice providers, might be part of your team as well. Before, during and after your treatment, they work together to address your needs.

Medical oncology
Radiation oncology


Find a location near you

If you’re concerned about your prostate health, see a prostate cancer specialist at one of our convenient UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center locations.

Patient support and services

More ways we can help

To support you as you deal with prostate cancer, we offer a number of services and informational resources.

Cancer Connect puts you in touch with professionals at the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center. They can give you information about our services and answer your questions weekdays between 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

For more information, call (608) 262-5223 or 1-800-622-8922.

Men might worry about their ability to father children following prostate cancer and its treatments. Our Generations Fertility Clinic can help. Staff members will offer information and can discuss options to help you preserve fertility. It is best to do this before you start treatment for prostate cancer.

For more information, call (608) 824-6160 or 1-888-474-3933.

Call now: (608) 824-6160

If you have a family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer, you might be at an increased risk of prostate cancer. Our genetic counselors can help you assess your personal risk. They also provide helpful information to people making decisions about cancer treatment and follow-up care.

For more information, call (608) 263-7284.

Our survivorship program is designed to aid your recovery. It offers health care, information and resources to help you deal with life after cancer. Both long-term follow-up and one-time consultations are available. To schedule an appointment, call (608) 287-2900.

Learn more

Health psychologists can help you and those close to you learn to cope with your cancer diagnosis. They offer individual and family counseling. Call (608) 265-1700.

Our registered dietitians are devoted to providing individualized, state-of-the-art nutrition care to enhance overall health of patients and their families. To schedule an appointment, call (608) 263-4757.

Cancer can bring physical, emotional and spiritual challenges. Palliative care helps you and your family deal with these challenges. It’s available to everyone with cancer or other serious illnesses, regardless of prognosis.

Our Learning Center provides cancer-related information to you and your family. It’s a helpful resource as you work to understand your cancer, its treatments and its impact on your life.

We offer counseling and medication to help you quit smoking. Giving up tobacco is one of the best things you can do to protect your health. For more information, call (608) 263-0573.

Trained social workers can help you and your family deal with many cancer-related concerns, including: 

  • Adjustment to your illness and treatment 

  • Emotional challenges 

  • Family impact

  • Financial impact

  • Job-related issues

It’s not unusual to have questions about your faith and the meaning of life when you’re dealing with cancer. Our chaplains work with people who have cancer and their families.

Patient information

Support groups

The support of others who know what you’re going through can be helpful. There are several local support groups for men with prostate cancer.

Genitourinary (GU) Cancer Support Group

This group is for people who have had any type of GU cancer. These include cancers of the prostate, bladder and kidneys. The group is a seminar series. It covers topics such as:

  • Fertility 

  • Incontinence 

  • Mental well-being 

  • Nutrition

  • Sexual function 

The group meets on the third Thursday of each month from 4:30–5:30 p.m. Registration is not necessary. Learn more

UW Health Urology 
1 S. Park St. 
Madison, WI 53715
(608) 287-2900

Gilda’s Club Prostate Cancer Support Group

Men with all stages of prostate cancer and people in their support system are welcome. The group meets the third Wednesday of each month from 6–7:30 p.m.

View upcoming sessions

Gilda's Club 
7907 UW Health Ct. 
Middleton, WI 53562

UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center

The experts at the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center intimately understand every type of cancer. We will get to know you and design a treatment plan that works for you and your family.

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