Image Quizzes

Urinating multiple times per night

Reviewed by Chad R. Tracy, MD

STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/Science Photo Library

A 62-year-old man presents for routine prostate cancer screening. He notes that he has not been sleeping well as a result of getting up to urinate multiple times per night for the past few months. The patient underwent a prostate cancer screening about 26 months ago, and results were normal. On examination, digital rectal examination is normal, but prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels are elevated at 10.2 ng/mL.

What is the likely diagnosis?

Benign prostatic hyperplasia

Adenocarcinoma of the prostate

Nonbacterial prostatitis

Urethral stricture

On the basis of the patient's history and presentation, this is likely a case of adenocarcinoma of the prostate. Although most patients with prostate cancer are diagnosed on screening, when localized symptoms do occur, they may include urinary frequency, decreased urine stream, urinary urgency, and hematuria. In some cases, these signs and symptoms may well be related to age-associated prostate enlargement or other conditions; benign prostatic hyperplasia, for example, can manifest in urinary symptoms and even elevate PSA (but because this patient does not report pain, nonbacterial prostatitis is unlikely). Symptomatic patients older than 50 years, such as the one in this case, should be screened for prostate cancer. Those with a PSA > 10 ng/mL are more than 50% likely to have prostate cancer.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines advise that needle biopsy of the prostate is indicated for tissue diagnosis in those with elevated PSA levels, preferably via a transrectal ultrasound. MRI can be used to assess lesions that are concerning for prostate cancer prior to biopsy. Lesions are then assigned Prostate Imaging Reporting and Data System (PI-RADS) scores depending on their location within the prostatic zones. A pathologic evaluation of the biopsy specimen will determine the patient's Gleason score. PSA density and PSA doubling time should be collected as well. The clinician should ask about high-risk germline mutations and estimate life expectancy because course of treatment is largely based on risk assessment.

Standard treatments for clinically localized prostate cancer include watchful waiting, active surveillance, radical prostatectomy, and radiation therapy. Active surveillance is often recommended for those who have very-low-risk disease because of the slow growth of certain types of prostate cancer. Radical prostatectomy is a viable option for any patient with localized disease that can be completely excised surgically, provided the patient has a life expectancy of 10 or more years and no serious comorbidities. In some patients, radical prostatectomy may be followed by radiation with or without a short course of hormone treatment, depending on risk factors for recurrence. Radiation therapy is also potentially curative in localized prostate cancer and may be delivered in the form of external-beam radiation therapy or brachytherapy. For asymptomatic patients who are older and/or have other serious underlying conditions, observation may be recommended.

Chad R. Tracy, MD, Professor; Director, Minimally Invasive Surgery, Department of Urology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa

Chad R. Tracy, MD, has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships:

Serve(d) as a consultant for: CVICO Medical Solutions.

Image Quizzes are fictional or fictionalized clinical scenarios intended to provide evidence-based educational takeaways.

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