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September Is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

What You Need to Know

Happy man sitting outside
  • Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, behind skin cancer.
  • African-American men have the highest prostate cancer incidence in the world.
  • More than 90 percent of all prostate cancers are discovered when they are localized—confined to the prostate—or regional—nearby. The five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with prostate tumors discovered at these stages is nearly 100 percent.
  • Early prostate cancer may be present without any symptoms. It can often be detected with screening tests. 
  • In the past 25 years, the five-year survival rate for all stages combined has increased from 68 to nearly 100 percent.

Patient Resources

Ask the Expert

Dr. H. Ballentine CarterDr. H. Ballentine Carter

Understanding and treating prostate cancer is a constantly evolving science. Recent information may leave men confused. Johns Hopkins prostate cancer expert H. Ballentine Carter tackles the prostate cancer questions that are on many minds.

Can a baldness drug prevent or reduce prostate cancer?

Finasteride, a drug used to treat baldness, has generated buzz after two studies suggested it was capable of reducing the incidence of minor prostate cancers. Carter, after reviewing the methodology, believes the results are overpromising and that finasteride does not appear to be an effective method of prostate cancer prevention.

Should I get my PSA levels checked?

Carter urges for individualized prostate cancer detection approaches: “If you’re between the ages of 55 and 69, are African-American or if you have a family history, speak to your doctor about prostate cancer screening.” Only you and your doctor can determine the appropriate course of action based on your health and background.

Advances in Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

As part of diagnosing prostate cancer, doctors may order a prostate biopsy for men who have a high PSA level found through a blood test. The doctor performing a biopsy is typically guided by ultrasound images. However, current technology generally cannot show images of suspicious areas, so the radiologist may have to take several biopsies in different areas of the prostate.

The good news is that a new technology is available to address this issue. Using a new software system, MRI images, which show suspicious areas, are integrated with ultrasound images produced in real time during the biopsy. This allows the radiologist to know exactly where to plan the biopsy, resulting in less patient discomfort and a more accurate diagnosis.

“Men are already nervous enough finding out they need to have a prostate biopsy,” says Johns Hopkins radiology technical manager Robert De Jong. “This technology is changing the landscape by empowering radiologists to perform a more precise biopsy while also improving patient care.”

A fusion of MRI images with ultrasound has been used for performing biopsies on other areas of the body, such as the liver or lungs, but being able to use this technology for prostate biopsies is new and only used by a few hospitals. Johns Hopkins began using the technology in 2013.

To schedule an appointment for a prostate MRI/ultrasound fusion biopsy at Johns Hopkins, please call (410) 955-4100.

Schedule an Appointment

To meet with a Hopkins prostate cancer expert, please call (410) 955-6100.

Request an Appointment


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