Prostate Cancer Specialist San Jose, Silicon Valley

Prostate Problems / Cancer Specialist San Jose and Los Gatos

Dr. Gholami has performed thousands of laparoscopic and/or robotic procedures since 2000. He has been performing laparoscopic prostatectomies longer than >98 % of practicing urologists. Additionally, Dr. Gholami is an expert in laparoscopy so that he can perform highly complex laparoscopic procedures done by very few surgeons worldwide.

It seems that most of the men I know are having problems with their prostate. A few even have cancer and the rest are worried about what’s in store for them.

It’s true that prostate problems are very common after age 50. And the older men get, the more likely they are to have such problems. Most prostate problems are not cancer. Still, prostate cancer does affect a lot of men.

The prostate is a gland. It makes fluid that becomes part of semen, the white fluid that contains sperm. The prostate lies low in the body in front of the rectum and below the bladder (where urine is stored). It surrounds the tube that carries urine away from the bladder (urethra).

When you’re a young man, your prostate is about the size of a walnut. It slowly grows larger as you get older. If the prostate gets too large, it can cause urinary problems. Infection or cancer in the prostate can also cause urinary and other problems. Often, men notice symptoms themselves, and sometimes their doctor finds something during a routine check-up.

There are several different kinds of prostate problems. Only a doctor can tell one from another. That’s why you need to see your doctor if something doesn’t seem right to you.

Common Problems

These problems are not cancer.

  • Acute prostatitis is an infection of the prostate caused by bacteria. It usually starts all of a sudden. It can cause fever, chills, or pain in the lower back and between the legs. It can cause pain when you urinate. If you have these symptoms, see your doctor right away. Antibiotic drugs can kill the bacteria and help you feel better.
  • Chronic prostatitis is an infection of the prostate that keeps coming back time after time. This problem can be hard to treat. Sometimes, taking antibiotics for a long time may work. Talk with your doctor about other things you can do to help you feel better.
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is very common in older men. The prostate is enlarged, but it is not cancerous. Over time, an enlarged prostate may press against the urethra, making it hard to urinate. It may cause dribbling after you urinate or a need to urinate often, especially at night. Your doctor will do a rectal exam to check for BPH. And you may need to have special x-rays or scans to check your urethra, prostate, and bladder.

Prostate Cancer & Treatment

The prostate is a male reproductive gland that produces a fluid found in semen. Located below the bladder and in front of the rectum, the prostate surrounds the urethra the tube that empties urine from the bladder.

Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland and may spread to surrounding structures. While most men with prostate cancer have no symptoms, physician can find prostate cancer during a regular checkup, using a combination of a blood test called a PSA and a digital rectal exam (DRE).

Nearly one in six American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. With greater awareness, prostate cancer detection is on the rise and mortality is declining. Moreover, better treatments are allowing more men to return to active and productive lives after treatment.

Prostate cancer is a common type of cancer among American men. It is most common among African American men. Treatment for prostate cancer works best when the disease is found early.

Prostate Cancer FAQ's

Diagnosing Prostate Cancer

Early prostate cancer does not usually cause symptoms. As the cancer grows, it may cause trouble urinating. Also, you may need to urinate often, especially at night. Other symptoms can be pain or burning during urination, blood in the urine or semen, pain in the back, hips, or pelvis, and painful ejaculation.

To figure out if these symptoms are caused by prostate cancer, your doctor will ask you questions about your past medical problems. He or she will perform a physical exam. In the exam, the doctor will put a gloved finger into your rectum to feel your prostate through the wall of the rectum. Hard or lumpy areas may be a sign of cancer.

Your doctor may also do a test to check the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level in your blood. PSA levels may be high in men who have an enlarged prostate gland or prostate cancer. You may also need to have an ultrasound exam. In this procedure, a probe that produces sound waves is put into the rectum. Sound waves bounce off the tissues, and a computer uses the echoes to make a picture of the prostate.

A biopsy is almost always needed to diagnose prostate cancer. This can be done in a doctor’s office using a local anesthetic. The doctor takes out tiny pieces of the prostate and sends them to a laboratory to be checked for cancer cells under a microscope.

Prostate Cancer Treatment

There are many ways to treat prostate cancer. The choice of treatment depends on the stage of the cancer (whether it affects part of the prostate, involves the whole prostate, or has spread to other parts of the body). It also depends on your age and general health. How you feel about the benefits and side effects of the various treatments is also very important.

The following are three standard treatment choices for cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate:

Watchful waiting. If the cancer is growing slowly and not causing problems, you may decide not to have treatment right away. Instead, your doctor will check you regularly for changes in your condition. Older men with other medical problems often choose this option.

Surgery. The most common type of surgery is a radical prostatectomy. The surgeon takes out the whole prostate and some nearby tissues. Side effects may include loss of sexual function (impotence) or problems holding urine (incontinence). Sometimes incontinence goes away within a year of surgery. But some men continue to have problems and have to wear a pad. An operation called nerve-sparing surgery gives some men a better chance of keeping their sexual function.

da Vinci® Prostatectomy. da Vinci Prostatectomy is performed with the assistance of the da Vinci Surgical System – the latest evolution in robotics technology. The da Vinci Surgical System enables surgeons to operate with unmatched precision and control using only a few small incisions. Recent studies suggest that da Vinci Prostatectomy may offer improved cancer control and a faster return to potency and continence.

Radiation therapy. This treatment uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. There are two kinds of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy is beamed into the prostate from a machine outside the body. Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) uses radioactive “seeds” that are placed in the prostate, into or near the tumor itself.

Cryotherapy. Prostate cancer has been treated with cryotherapy since the early 1990s. Cryotherapy is used to eradicate prostate cancer by freezing the prostate gland. After receiving anesthesia, the doctor inserts needles into the prostate gland through the perineum, the area between the scrotum and anus. The needles produce very cold temperatures. Freezing destroys the entire prostate, including any cancerous tissue within it.

Radiofrequency Ablation for Prostate Cancer. Radiofrequency ablation is an innovative therapy that uses electrical energy and heat to destroy cancerous tissues. A needle-thin probe delivers low doses of radiofrequency waves directly to the tumor, leading to necrosis (cell death).

TUNA for BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). is a minimally invasive option for the treatment of urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate. TUNA (transurethral needle ablation) uses radiofrequency waves to heat up and destroy excess cells in the prostate gland. When the cells are heated to the right temperature, they die. When the cells die, they disappear and the blockage or obstruction is removed. The dead cells are reabsorbed by the body in the weeks following treatment.

Like surgery, radiation therapy can cause problems with impotence. Radiation is not as likely to cause urinary incontinence as surgery. But it can cause rectal problems such as pain and soreness, rectal urgency, and trouble controlling bowel movements (fecal incontinence).

In addition, after radiation therapy, some men are treated with hormone therapy. This is used when chances are high that the cancer will come back. Hormone therapy is also used for prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate. Side effects of hormone treatments include hot flashes, loss of sexual function, and loss of desire for sex.

PSA Testing

Some doctors think that men should have regular PSA tests, and others do not. Here’s why: We know that this test can catch a cancer before it causes symptoms, but we aren’t sure that PSA tests save lives. Also, PSA tests find small cancers that would never grow or spread. When that happens, a man may have surgery or other treatments that he does not need. Researchers are studying ways to improve the PSA test so that it catches only cancers that need treatment.

Protecting Yourself

The following can be signs of prostate cancer. Keep in mind that they are much more likely to be caused by benign diseases than by cancer.

  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Not being able to urinate
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in lower back, hips or upper thighs
  • Dribbling of urine

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.

Treatment Options

If the you have an early diagnosis of prostate cancer, there is usually a range of treatment options. These may include conservative management, radiation therapy with either external bream or brachytherapy therapy, cryosurgery and prostatectomy – surgical removal of the prostate. Your treatment options will depend on a number of factors, including the stage of the disease, your age and health or personal preference.

Transurethral Resection of the Prostate

A discussion of the operation and the pre and post operative care

You and your doctor have considered the possibility that you have a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). Why? What is it? Where? What can I expect afterwards? The following literature will hopefully give you some of the answers and understanding of prostate surgery. Perhaps not every question will be answered, so feel free to call us if more information is needed.

The Problem

The prostate gland sits between the bladder (the muscular reservoir for urine coming from the kidneys) and the urethra (the channel in the penis, through which the urine flows). The prostate's function is to make seminal fluid or semen, which is added to the sperm coming from the testicles and then ejaculated during sexual intercourse. However, the urine from the bladder must pass through the prostate to get into the urethra.

As men grow older, the prostate grows in size. This enlargement is also referred to as 'BPH', which stands for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Benign means that this growth is NOT cancerous, hyperplasia is doctor talk for something that grows. The prostate's position between the bladder and urethra causes an obstruction to the flow of urine. This obstruction can present in many ways. Slowing of the stream, difficulty starting, getting up at night to urinate, urgency or a very strong desire to urinate, urinary infections, bleeding, and total inability to urinate.

The most common way of treating prostate enlargement or BPH is to do a transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP. Using a special telescopic electric knife which allows an excellent view of the prostate channel, the Urologist is able to remove the part of the prostate which is blocking the channel. The entire prostate is NOT removed in this operation, but only that portion which is obstructing the channel.

Other types of prostate operations do exist and you may have heard of some of them. These include the 'open prostatectomy', 'suprapubic prostatectomy' or 'retropubic prostatectomy' which is also performed for BPH except that it is done through an incision in the lower abdomen. Its use is limited to prostates that are too big to be removed by the TURP route and accomplishes to same end result, that is to remove only the blocking part of the prostate. The other type of operation is called the 'radical prostatectomy' in which the entire prostate is removed. This operation is done only for cancer of the prostate and is a much more difficult procedure.

Preparation for the Operation

Any surgical procedure of this magnitude is done in a hospital. Unless there are some extraordinary circumstances, you will probably be admitted on the day of surgery. You may need blood tests, an electrocardiogram (EKG), and other tests done prior to your surgical date. It is very important that you refrain from eating or drinking anything for at least eight hours prior to your scheduled operation time. In most circumstances this means nothing should pass your lips after midnight before your surgical procedure. Patients taking medicine for their heart or blood pressure, generally should continue these medications on their routine schedule with just a small sip of water. Be certain to review the medicines your are taking with your doctor and ask your him about which medicines to continue and discontinue.

After coming through the admitting area, you will arrive at the nursing station be given a bed and hospital gown. You will have an intravenous line started to replenish your body's fluids. You can stay with one family member until you are taken to the operating room. You will be brought down to a operating room where an anesthesiologist will talk to you about the various choices of anesthesia, usually general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia. General anesthesia means that you are completely asleep. You will be kept asleep by breathing an anesthetic agent. The more preferable option is spinal anesthesia in which you are awake but sedated, and the lower half of your body is temporarily anesthetized with an injection of a local anesthetic into your back. For the most part, spinal anesthesia is preferred by urologists because of the long-term comfort it affords and somewhat less bleeding during the procedure.

The Operation and Recovery Room

In the operating room, the nurses will introduce themselves and ask you a few questions to make sure that you have reviewed and signed the operative consent. At this point, the anesthesiologist will place some monitors on you and the anesthetic will be given. If you select a spinal anesthetic, you will note that your legs will be raised in special stirrups to perform the operation. The surgery is done usually within the hour, and you will be taken to a recovery room where nurses will watch you very carefully until your anesthetic has worn off. You will note that the nurses are constantly watching the rubber tube that leads from your penis to a drainage bag on the side of the bed. You will also note a bag of water hanging at the foot of the bed that connects to the tube. This tube or 'catheter' has been placed through your penis, through the prostate channel and into your bladder. It is held in position by a small balloon at the end of the tube which is inflated after it is placed. The nurses will be watching the tube drainage carefully. It will contain urine from the bladder, irrigation from the bag at the foot of the bed and any bloody drainage from the operative site in the prostate. This tube or 'catheter' that is in the bladder is very important for your early post-operative recovery. It essentially puts the bladder and prostate at rest, and if there is any bleeding it allows the blood to come out immediately rather than staying in the bladder and prostate to form clots. Occasionally clots will form and the tube will stop draining. The nurses will then use a special syringe with water to hand irrigate the catheter to free it of clots. Hand irrigation might be somewhat uncomfortable, but necessary to clear any plugging of the channel and allow the urine to flow. Once your anesthetic has worn off and the urine is draining satisfactorily, you will be transported to a hospital room. Once you are in your hospital room, your family can visit you. During your recovery in the PACU, the post anesthesia unit, no family members will be able to visit you.

Postoperative Care

In most instances you will be able to eat a regular meal on the evening of surgery. You will probably stay at bed rest until the next morning, and the intravenous line will be removed if you are taking in enough fluids. The nurses on the floor will continue to observe your catheter drainage and irrigate the tubes as needed. You may be on antibiotics, pain medication and stool softeners. Your usual medications will be restarted (except aspirin-containing products).

Getting Ready for Discharge to Home

As the catheter is a foreign body and an irritant, we have found that removing the catheter as soon as it is safe to do so is the best course of action. The major reason for the catheter, as mentioned earlier, is the removal of blood within the bladder and prostate. If, by the next morning, the urine drainage is relatively clear, the catheter can be safely removed and you could be discharged that very day. If there is still some bleeding present, then the catheter may be left in a second day. Most patients will have the catheter removed on the first and second day and discharged at that point. It is not too uncommon to have continued bleeding even at two days, and in these circumstances the catheter may need to be left in a little bit longer. Your physician may decide to discharge you with a catheter in place and a special drainage bag to be worn around your leg. This will allow the bladder to heal more fully. You will probably then be brought back to his office within three or four days to have the catheter removed. We encourage our patients to go home as soon as they are eating and intravenous fluids or antibiotics are not necessary. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that many severe bacterial infections are generated in the hospital and prolonged hospitalization and bed rest may increase your chances of getting blood clots in the legs. You will probably be discharged with antibiotics whether or not the catheter is in place. Also, you will receive stool softeners, to keep the stool from becoming too hard and preventing you from having to strain to have a bowel movement.

Post Operative Expectations

One should not expect too much immediately from the prostate operation. The objective of the surgery is to open the channel to allow better emptying of the bladder. The patient may continue to have symptoms for a veritable amount of time, and this includes getting up at night, frequency, some hesitancy and blood in the urine. It may take as long as six to eight weeks to get a better idea of how successful the operation might be, and some of the factors that come to play here include any residual infection and how much damage was done to the bladder wall by the obstruction of the prostate before the operation.

After Discharge to Home from the Hospital

Because of the raw surface around your prostate and the irritating effects of urine, you may expect frequency of urination and/or urgency (a stronger desire to urinate). This will usually resolve or improve slowly over the healing period. You may see some blood in your urine over the first six weeks. Do not be alarmed, even if the urine was clear for a while. Take it easy and drink lots of fluids until the urine clears again.

DIET: You may return to your normal diet immediately. Because of the raw surface alcohol, spicy foods and drinks with caffeine may cause some irritation or frequency and should be used in moderation. To keep your urine flowing freely and to avoid constipation, drink plenty of fluids during the day (8 - 10 glasses).

ACTIVITY: Your physical activity is to be restricted, especially during the first two weeks. During this time use the following guidelines: a. No lifting heavy objects (anything greater that 10 lbs); b. NO strenuous exercise c. NO sexual intercourse for 3 weeks d. No severe straining during bowel movements, make certain to take stool softeners

SEX: If you were sexually active prior to your surgery, your physician will advise you about when you can resume normal sexual activity. Resection of the prostate usually has generally no effect on a man's ability to get an erection or have an orgasm. Because the prostate makes semen, and because the junction of the bladder and prostate is involved in the operation, some men after a TURP have less or no semen after sexual intercourse. Usually you will need to wait 3 to 4 weeks before resuming sexual activity as long as there is no bleeding in the urine (which means that the prostate still has some healing to do).

BOWELS: It is important to have regular bowel movements during the post-operative period. The rectum and the prostate are next to each other and any very large and hard stools that require straining to pass can cause bleeding. You will be given stool softeners (usually) but these are not laxatives. A bowel movement every other day is reasonable. Use a mild laxative if needed and call if you are having problems. Most laxatives and stool softeners are over the counter and can be bought at any pharmacy. (Ducosate Sodium 250mg, 2 times a day, Milk of magnesia 2-3 tablespoons, or 2 Dulcolax tablets, for example).

MEDICATION: You should resume your pre-surgery medication unless told not to. In addition you will often be given an antibiotic to prevent infection and stool softeners. These should be taken as prescribed until the bottles are finished unless you are having an unusual reaction to one of the drugs.


a. Fevers over 101.5 Fahrenheit 
b. Heavy bleeding, or clots (See notes above about blood in urine) 
c. Inability to urinate 
d. Drug reactions (Hives, rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) 
e. Severe burning or pain with urination that is not improving.

FOLLOW-UP: You will need a follow-up appointment to monitor your progress. Call for this appointment at the number above when you get home or from the phone in your hospital room before leaving. Usually the first appointment will be about 14 days after your surgery.

Contact Dr. Gholami at 408-358-2030 or via online below:

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