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San Cancer Services

Prostate cancer

What is prostate cancer?

As the most common cancer experienced by men, prostate cancer generally develops slowly and may be devoid of symptoms for extended periods. It originates in the prostate gland, which is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

Given the slow growing nature of prostate cancer, those with risk factors are encouraged to undergo regular screening. Risk factors for prostate cancer include age (men over 50) and a family history. Other contributing factors may be a diet high in red meat or processed meats, obesity and smoking.

Detecting prostate cancer early

While slow-growing prostate cancer may take some time to develop, there may be some symptoms which can indicate early signs of the need for further investigation. Symptoms may include discomfort in the pelvic region, blood in urine or semen, difficulty urinating or erectile dysfunction.

The initial and most common diagnosis tool is a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. The PSA blood test measures the levels of a protein produced by the prostate gland. An elevated level does not necessarily definitively diagnose prostate cancer, but is an indicator to that further investigations should be undertaken. For those at high risk, screening may be recommended from 45 years of age, while it is more generally recommended for men between 55 and 70.

If a PSA blood test detects a change in levels, investigations to confirm a prostate cancer diagnosis are undertaken, including digital rectal examination, imaging scans or biopsies.

Treating prostate cancer

Prostate cancer treatment options will vary depending on the cancer stage. In some cases, where the cancer is considered slow growing, active surveillance may be the initial approach with no interventional prostate cancer treatment instigated. This approach may also be adopted for older individuals or those with other health concerns which are taking priority. If the cancer becomes more aggressive, treatment can then be deployed.

Key prostate cancer treatments at the San hospital include:

  • Hormone therapy: also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), aims to reduce the levels of male hormones that fuel prostate cancer growth.
  • Radiotherapy: uses high-dose radiation therapy to kill cancer cells, often in combination with other treatments.
  • Surgery: removal of the prostate gland; more common when cancer is localised.
  • Chemotherapy: uses drugs to slow the growth of or kill cancer cells.

While each method has benefits or side effects, the San’s highly specialised team including prostate cancer oncologists, radiation therapists and surgeons will determine which is most suitable for the individual patient’s circumstances as part of a multidisciplinary team. If prostate cancer surgery is required, state-of-the-art surgical facilities are at hand, including robotic surgery using the da Vinci robot.

Treating prostate cancer at the San's north shore hospital

The San’s private hospital in an easily accessible location on Sydney's North Shore provides the full suite of screening and treatment services which may be required as part of a prostate cancer assessment and treatment plan. A number of specialists are involved in treating prostate cancer such as urologists (specialists in the male reproduction system), prostate cancer oncologists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, urologic surgeons, radiologists, nuclear medicine physicians and pathologists.

With access to a full range of diagnostic tools to assist with identifying and treating prostate cancer, the team will determine and adopt the most appropriate strategy. Whether considering a surveillance approach or anticipating a more complex treatment plan involving radiation therapy and chemotherapy, the San’s prostate oncology specialists will guide the patient through each stage.


The San private hospital brings together prostate cancer specialists and world-class treatment facilities on Sydney's North Shore to offer prostate cancer patients access to comprehensive diagnosis and treatment services.

The San advantage

  • World-class facilities and technology
  • Multi-disciplinary teams
  • Specialist oncology and surgical teams
  • Individualised treatment plans
  • Post treatment care and support.