What You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer

One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. In honor of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, urologic oncologist Ramkishen Narayanan, M.D., is encouraging all men to learn about prostate cancer risk factors and the importance of early detection with prostate cancer screening.

Dr. Narayanan is head of the Center for Urologic Health, a partnership between the Disney Family Cancer Center at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank and Saint John’s Cancer Institute in Santa Monica.

“The Center represents a cumulative powerhouse of world-class, personalized care for every patient,” said Dr. Narayanan. “Our multidisciplinary approach includes nationally renowned medical oncologists, expert robotic surgeons, and highly skilled radiation oncologists.”

The program aims to deliver precision medicine to every patient, while working to protect their dignity and quality of life. It offers leading-edge diagnostic and treatment options for the full scope of urologic oncology: more prevalent urologic cancers—prostate, bladder and kidney cancer—as well as less common testicular and penile cancer.

With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. Risk factors for prostate cancer include:

  • Advancing age – About 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65.
  • Race – African American men are at higher risk.
  • Family history – Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s likelihood of developing this disease, and the BRCA gene that causes breast cancer also can increase risk.

Diagnosing Prostate Cancer

Because prostate cancer often does not produce any symptoms until the disease becomes more advanced, screening is the best way to find the disease when it is most curable. Prostate cancer can be detected using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or digital-rectal exam. If the result of either test is abnormal, further testing will be required to confirm the presence and stage of the cancer. A major advancement in prostate cancer diagnosis is use of prostate MRI followed by a prostate biopsy using MRI-transrectal ultrasound fusion imaging technology. The Center for Urologic Health also offers a transperineal fusion approach to prostate biopsy, to better sample certain locations while reducing the risk of infection.

“Our goal is to make the biopsy process as comfortable, efficient and complication-free as possible,” said Dr. Narayanan


To help reduce the chance of developing prostate cancer, Dr. Narayanan encourages all men to:

  1. Be aware of your genetics. Talk to your family members about any history of cancer. Genetic counseling and testing, under professional guidance, can help catch potentially lethal types of urologic cancers at early stages.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity increases a man’s risk of several urologic cancers, including prostate cancer.
  3. Quit smoking. Studies have shown a link between smoking and an increased risk for aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
  4. Eat healthy. Incorporate fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet, limit red meat, and avoid sugary and processed foods.
  5. Exercise. Being physically active lowers your risk for many health conditions, including prostate cancer.

“Above all, men should talk to their primary care doctor or urologist about the PSA blood test for prostate cancer screening,” noted Dr. Narayanan.

To learn more about the Center for Urologic Health at Providence Saint Joseph’s Disney Family Cancer Center, call 818-748-4798.

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