Skip main navigation

Military Health System

Clear Your Browser Cache

This website has recently undergone changes. Users finding unexpected concerns may care to clear their browser's cache to ensure a seamless experience.

New Treatments for ‘Quiet Disease’ Prostate Cancer

Image of New Treatments for ‘Quiet Disease’ Prostate Cancer. "Testing for prostate cancer is important because it’s a disease which is treatable and curable if it's detected at an early stage, and it's localized to the prostate," said Dr. Gregory Chesnut, a urologic oncologist and associate professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. "Our intention is for curative treatment, and we have excellent outcomes."

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, with the National Cancer Institute estimating over 280,000 diagnoses in 2023. However, promising new treatments and updated testing guidelines are leading to better patient outcomes.

"Prostate cancer accounts for nearly 27% of all new cancer diagnoses and more than 10% of cancer deaths in men," said Dr. Gregory Chesnut, a urologic oncologist and associate professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. “It’s a very real disease.”

New Treatments Approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration

According to Chesnut, two recent advances in prostate cancer treatment may lead to improved outcomes for patients. One is a method for more precise detection of cancer cells outside the prostate, using an imaging test for prostate-specific membrane antigen protein.

"It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to find recurrent or metastatic prostate cancer, or to guide primary treatment in certain high-risk prostate cancers," said Chesnut. "It’s now offered widely throughout the United States."

The second new advancement is in radiologic treatment of prostate cancer that is metastatic, which means cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body. A medicine that uses a small amount of radioactivity to kill cancer cells was approved by the FDA in March 2022, according to Dr. Kevin Banks, a radiologist and nuclear medicine physician at the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

"It travels through the blood stream, seeking out prostate cells wherever they are in the body," said Banks. "It binds to the prostate-specific membrane antigen protein on the prostate cancer cell surface and delivers a microscopic amount of radiation. The specific type of radiation given generally travels less than one millimeter, and no more than a maximum of two millimeters, allowing it to kill the cancer cells while leaving surrounding healthy tissue unharmed."

Prostate Cancer Survival Rate Higher for Military Health System Beneficiaries

In addition to new treatments, a study from USUHS offers good news for men being treated for prostate cancer within the MHS. The study found the five-year survival rate for late-stage prostate cancer is higher for MHS beneficiaries than for the general public.

"Ultimately, all men, whether you had high-risk or high-stage prostate cancer did better across all age groups and across all ethnicities within the MHS," said Chesnut.

"The disease rates were the same whether they were treated inside or outside of the MHS, but the outcomes were better. I think that's a recognition of what we do well in the military," said Chesnut. "We screen patients well, we have access to primary care for appropriate screening and counseling, and access to specialty care. Patients have access to urology care, to medical oncology care, to radiation oncology care. It’s often all in the same building."

Banks thinks there could even be better results to come.

"The results are certainly positive and show the quality of care being provided by the Defense Health Agency," he said. "The data would have been from before [the medicine] entered use in the MHS, so hopefully any follow-up research would show an even better five-year survival rate for our beneficiaries."

Changes in Testing Guidelines

Chesnut said changes to prostate cancer screening guidelines, and a new understanding of how to treat prostate cancer in early stages, is also helping patients.

"Testing for prostate cancer is important because it’s a disease which is treatable and curable if detected at an early stage, and it's localized to the prostate," said Chesnut. "Our intention is for curative treatment, and we have excellent outcomes."

However, Chesnut said prostate-specific antigen tests, the primary prostate cancer screening test, were not being recommended from 2012 through 2018.

"For patients and doctors, when there’s a prostate cancer diagnosis, the instinct is, we need to go to general quarters and we need to treat this," said Chesnut. "Prior to 2012, patients were sometimes being treated when they didn’t need treatment. Now we know better. You don't have to treat every prostate cancer. We serve our patients best when we diagnose prostate cancer in a timely manner, when we correctly identify which cancers need immediate treatment and which can safely undergo surveillance. Personalized treatment decisions and use of emerging technologies for the individualized treatment plan is best for each patient."

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends men ages 55 to 69 make individual decisions about screening for prostate cancer after discussing the benefits and harms with their doctor.

Chesnut recommends prostate cancer screening be a routine part of men's health conversations like mammograms are for women. "It’s easy for us to talk past prostate cancer, because it's not going to get the big headlines. It’s a sort of a quiet disease."

You also may be interested in...

Article Around MHS
Oct 19, 2023

Lights, Camera, Ultrasound! Uniformed Services University Nursing Students Train Using High-Tech Simulation Theater

The Uniformed Services University students from the family and women’s health nurse practitioner program attended the university’s Wide-Area Virtual Environment at the Simulation Center for the first time in Oct. 2023. (Photo by Tom Balfour, USU)

Military students from the Uniformed Services University conducted immersive medical team training in the university's Wide-Area Virtual Environment. The theater is a a state-of-the-art 3D immersive reality facility that simulates various scenarios, replicating environments from war zones to medical emergencies, to prepare them for real-world medical ...

Article Around MHS
Oct 2, 2023

Suicide Care Prevention and Research Initiative at the Uniformed Services University Builds Interventions to Reduce Military Suicide

The Suicide Care, Prevention, and Research Initiative provides support for chaplains, spouses, military leadership, and other gatekeepers of service members. The program builds, scientifically tests, and implements suicide prevention programs by incorporating knowledge gained from service members who have died by suicide as well as those with suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors. (U.S. Army photo by Michele Wiencek)

While numerous programs work to develop strategies to lessen the national suicide rate, a standout in the military community is the Suicide Care, Prevention, and Research Initiative at the Uniformed Services University.

Article Around MHS
Aug 8, 2023

Klamath Falls and the Navy's Forgotten Filariasis Problem

“Filariasis in the personnel of our armed forces is a problem which has arisen since operations were started in the South and Central Pacific area,” said U.S. Vice Adm. Ross McIntire, Navy Surgeon General, to Rep. William Stigler, D-OK., on June 20, 1944. (Courtesy Photo)

After conducting a thorough medical survey of Tutuila Island, Samoa, USS Alaska’s Medical Officer Thomas Hiland reported that four-fifths of the population over the age of 45 suffered from a condition marked—in severe cases—by skin/tissue thickening, swelling of limbs, and scrotal swelling.

Article Around MHS
Jul 28, 2023

The Naval Postgraduate Dental School Celebrates 100 Years of Academic Excellence

Naval Postgraduate Dental School students graduated on June 9th, 2023, with U.S. Navy Capt. Steven M. Stokes, dean of NPDS, as Master of Ceremonies. Distinguished guests joining the Dean on stage were U.S. Navy Capt. Walter D. Brafford, Dental Corps Chief and Commander, Naval Medical Forces Support Command who delivered the commencement remarks. (Courtesy Photo)

Established in February 1923, the Naval Postgraduate Dental School serves as the cornerstone for the Navy Dental Corps’ postgraduate training and is the primary force generating producer of dental specialists for the Fleet. Academically aligned with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, under the leadership and support of the Naval ...

Article Around MHS
Jul 27, 2023

Assistance During In-Flight Medical Emergency Becomes Learning Experience for USU Student

U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Cole Crandall assisted in a medical emergency aboard a flight to Hawaii as he headed for his nephrology rotation. (Courtesy photo: U.S. State Department)

Flying over the Pacific Ocean, third-year Uniformed Services University medical student U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Cole Crandall heard some commotion in the back of the plane. He had just completed his internal medical rotation at Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington and was headed for his nephrology rotation at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii.

Article Around MHS
Jul 6, 2023

Uniformed Services University Psychiatrists Develop Global Disaster and Preventive Psychiatry Training for American Psychiatric Association

The Uniformed Services University, in conjunction with the American Psychiatric Association, has created a new course titled "Disaster and Prevention Psychiatry: Protecting Health and Fostering Community Resilience." USU's new course was created through its department of psychiatry and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress in conjunction with the APA. (Photo: Uniformed Services University)

In the wake of rising global disasters and their impact on the population, the Uniformed Services University, in conjunction with the American Psychiatric Association, has created a first-of-its-kind course to understand and prepare for such crises.

Jun 20, 2023

TRICARE Preventive Health Services for Men of All Ages

TRICARE Preventive Health Services for Men of All Ages

Did you know that June is Men’s Health Month? If you’re a man, it’s a good time to take stock of your overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the life expectancy for men in the U.S. is nearly six years less than that for women. And that gap is getting wider. However, men can still live long, healthy lives by eating ...

Skip subpage navigation
Refine your search
Last Updated: August 22, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery