Phone: 612-624-5551
unews@umn.edu
24-hr number: 612-293-0831

Advanced Search

Feature

Kenneth Koeneman

Under the leadership of Kenneth Koeneman, the Center for Prostate Cancer offers a new, comprehensive, and multidisciplinary approach.

Fighting prostate cancer

Center offers hope and new treatments

By Brenda Hudson

Published on January 5, 2005

Prostate cancer is, after skin cancer, the second most common malignancy in American men. In 2004, it was estimated that more than 230,000 men were diagnosed with this disease. The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, and some oncologists believe that if men live long enough, 100 percent of them will eventually develop the disease.

A patient facing a diagnosis of prostate cancer may find himself overwhelmed with the wide range of treatment options currently available. In addition, he will need to make some very personal choices, weighing the benefits of a particular treatment against its potential side effects.

Because of the complicated and sensitive nature of this disease, urologic surgeon Kenneth Koeneman believes it is important to offer patients a tailored approach to care. As director of the University's Center for Prostate Cancer and Dougherty Family Chair in Urology, he leads a team of health-care providers who offer a comprehensive range of services--from prevention and screening to the latest in minimally invasive, robotic surgery.

"...one day we'll be able to manage prostate cancer much in the way we manage diabetes or hypertension today," says Kenneth Koeneman.

Koeneman and his team work closely on each treatment plan. "Treatment can range from simple observation to more radical options, such as surgery and radiation therapy," he says. For each patient, Koeneman weighs the available data, discusses it with his patient, and tailors the therapy based on his judgment as well as the patient's preferences.

"It's important to realize that early stage prostate cancer, in particular, is amenable to cure with currently available treatments," says Koeneman. Those treatment options vary, depending on the stage of the cancer when it is found and on the patient's age and health status.

For cancer that is confined to the prostate, treatment may include surgically removing the entire prostate gland, radiation therapy aimed at the pelvic area, or even energy-based therapy, like cryo-therapy (using extreme cold to destroy diseased tissue). Some patients, especially elderly men or men with unrelated severe medical problems, may choose to have no immediate treatment. If the cancer has spread outside of the prostate gland, however, hormone therapy is most commonly used and may include surgically removing the testicles or giving drugs that reduce the effects of male hormones.

Koeneman's research also targets better prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment. By understanding the individual patient's molecular changes and adapting therapy to that person, he hopes to better control the disease. "We believe that one day we'll be able to manage prostate cancer much in the way we manage diabetes or hypertension today," says Koeneman.

While many drugs that target prostate cancer at the molecular level are still in the research phase, initial findings appear promising. "Decreasing the growth rate of the tumor and reactivating programmed cell death in the cancer are on the cutting edge of advancements in prostate cancer management," says Koeneman.

For more information about prostate cancer, see the University's Health Talk and You.