Make an Appointment:
Call Cancer Connect at (860) 545-6000
Please have the following information available when you call:
- Results of biopsies, x-rays, or other diagnostic studies you have had
- Information about any prior treatments you have had
- Your primary medical insurance information
The Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center treats more prostate cancer cases each year than any other center in Connecticut – as many as 600.
Patients choose Hartford Hospital for its advanced surgical procedures and leading-edge medical treatments. They appreciate the convenience of being treated close to home in our comfortable community hospital setting. Our surgeons have successfully completed several hundred robotic prostate surgeries, and our fellowship-trained team of urologic oncologists helps patients regain optimum urologic function.
A Multidisciplinary Team Treating Prostate Cancer
Our multidisciplinary team of prostate cancer specialists is led by a urologic oncologist who coordinates care from medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and clinical research nurses. They coordinate comprehensive care for prostate cancer patients, from surgery and radiation treatments to pathology analysis and active surveillance of PSA levels. A full range of supports include biofeedback and other integrative therapies, educational seminars and patient support groups so patients and their families know what to expect during treatment and at home.
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
If your physician refers you to a Hartford Hospital urologist, you’ll meet with a qualified specialist for a thorough exam, family and medical history, and a simple blood test for PSA (prostate specific antigen). If any irregularities are felt on the prostate gland and/or if your PSA blood levels are elevated, suspicious areas may require a needle biopsy – guided by ultrasound, this painless procedure does not require anesthesia. Should tumor cells be found on biopsy, further diagnostic tests will determine if the cancer has spread within or beyond the prostate. These might include bone scans, CT scans and MRIs to evaluate bones, lymph nodes or tissues near the prostate gland.
Based on the appearance of tumor cells under a microscope, our pathologist assigns a Gleason Grade (from 2 to 10) that helps describe the cancer’s aggressiveness and determine the best treatment. Each patient’s treatment is tailored to their disease and its aggressiveness. Often an active surveillance team can monitor non-aggressive tumors less invasively, with semi-annual followups, MRIs and repeat biopsies. Surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy may all be used in treating more aggressive tumors.
Pioneers in Robotic Surgery
Our surgeons pioneered robotic prostatectomies, performing prostate surgery with the da Vinci system. It guides surgical instruments through small incisions using remarkably precise robotic arms. With a three-dimensional computerized view of even the smallest surgical field, surgeons operate with exacting precision to preserve sexual function and continence. Patients also benefit from less blood loss and faster recovery times.
MRI-US Fusion - Beyond Advanced Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
In prostate cancer care, the ability to make decisions about care is enhanced with state-of-the-art equipment. The latest addition to Hartford Hospital’s Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute is MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) US (ultrasound – high frequency sound waves) fusion equipment which gives a more accurate biopsy of areas of the prostate suspicious for prostate cancer and identifies disease progression.
According to the National Institutes of Health, there are approximately one million prostate biopsies done in the U.S. every year, with 240,000 men being told they have prostate cancer. Because current traditional techniques of biopsy don’t involve full "sight," meaning there is some uncertainty as to exactly what tissue is being extracted, 23% of men with a negative biopsy actually have cancer.
MRI-US fusion allows a precise diagnosis as it fuses ultrasound with MRI to create a 3-D image allowing the physician to see the entire biopsy area. What does this mean for patients? It means that the treatment plan can be created with a greater confidence. Those patients who are on active surveillance, where cancer has been identified but the cancer does not require treatment, can be monitored with greater accuracy.
Radiation Therapy with Brachytherapy
If you require radiation therapy, Radiation Oncologists coordinate a team of specialists, including radiation therapists, nurses, physicists, dosimetrists and engineers in developing and delivering a precise radiation plan. Brachytherapy is an important breakthrough in treating prostate cancer, selectively controlling radiation doses from within the prostate. Radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate gland, where they emit low-dose radiation for the time required to treat the tumor. When highly radioactive treatment is called for, temporary brachytherapy can spare the urethra from radiation damage. Highly radioactive seeds can be delivered to the tumor for as little as a fraction of a second using a catheter system controlled by advanced computer technologies.
New 3-D conformal radiation therapy or Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is another intensely accurate radiation treatment. It directs radiation precisely to the cancer and minimizes radiation damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Hormonal Therapy for Prostate Cancer
Hormonal therapy is designed to stop the body's production of testosterone, which allows both normal prostate cells and prostate cancer cells to function. It differs from chemotherapy, which is designed to destroy the cancer systemically. Each prostate cancer patient’s treatment is tailored to their particular situation to deliver the best possible outcome.
Prostate Cancer Resources
The first Prostate Cancer Support Group in the Northeast was launched at Hartford Hospital. It can be a big help to talk to other men about how they are coping with the disease, treatment and any side effects. A support group can also be an important source of information about the latest treatments and therapies. Three active support groups help our patients and their families cope with the disease: a monthly prostate support group; a monthly advanced prostate support group; and a spouses support group.
On-line support is also available through CHESS, the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System, where patients access information, support, and decision-making help at any time. connect with and learn from others who have shared their experience. The CHESS website offers discussion groups, expert advice, decision and planning guides, reading rooms and links to other prostate cancer sites. One user said: "The CHESS Discussion Group is really amazing… I can come here and know that I am not alone." We’re committed to helping patients and their families get through treatment successfully, and return to their normal lives with all of the continuing supports they need.