James A. Eastham, MD, FACS


Chief, Urology Service; Peter T. Scardino Chair in Oncology

Conditions Treated

James A. Eastham, MD, FACS -- Chief, Urology Service; Florence and Theodore Baumritter/Enid Ancell Chair of Urologic Oncology
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About Me

I am a surgeon who specializes in nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy for the treatment of prostate cancer and salvage radical prostatectomy in patients with prostate cancer in whom radiation therapy has failed. I completed my fellowship in urologic oncology in 1995 and have been in practice since then, devoting the past 15 years exclusively to the care of men with prostate cancer.

I see about 300 men with prostate cancer each year. Many of them have low-risk disease and are candidates for active surveillance, meaning that no immediate treatment is necessary. In this approach, we monitor the tumor closely for signs that it might be growing or becoming more aggressive and hold off on treatment. For those men with more high-risk cancer that requires treatment, I primarily perform robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy.

At MSK, our treatment recommendations are based on personal risk. Not all men have the same risk — one size does not fit all. Many prostate cancers are of such low risk that treatment would only result in possible side effects, without improving patients’ life expectancy. Such cancers are best managed with active surveillance. Other men will benefit from either surgery or radiation therapy.

While most men are candidates for robotic surgery, some may still do better with traditional open surgery, a procedure I also perform. An area of special interest to me is men with high-risk prostate cancer who might not have been considered candidates for traditional open surgery. This includes men who have previously been treated with radiation therapy but whose cancer has returned.

My clinical research focuses on improving outcomes following surgery for prostate cancer. This includes controlling the cancer and restoring normal urinary and sexual function. Together with my colleagues in medical oncology and radiation oncology, we tailor therapy as accurately as possible to each individual’s cancer to control or cure it while minimizing treatment-related side effects.

We’re also starting to investigate the role of local treatment — surgery or radiation — in selected men with low-volume metastatic prostate cancer, meaning that their cancer has spread to a limited number of other sites in the body. Such men have traditionally been treated only with hormonal therapy. We are now investigating using a therapy in which men receive systemic treatment, such as chemotherapy, plus local treatment. The goal is to prolong survival and, ultimately, cure the cancer.

In addition, certain carefully selected men may be candidates for focal therapy, in which just the area of the prostate with the cancer is treated rather than the entire gland. This approach reduces the risk of treatment side effects while still eradicating the cancer.

During the course of my career I’ve given more than 180 invited presentations at meetings and symposia in the United States and around the world. I have also published 300 peer-reviewed studies in prestigious national and international journals.

As a doctor, my focus is on the whole person, not just his disease. I want my patients to be alive, but also to be able to live full and enjoyable lives. 

  • Clinical Expertise: Prostate Cancer; Nerve-Sparing Techniques; Salvage Radical Prostatectomy; Robotic Prostatectomy
  • Awards and Honors: Castle Connolly: New York Magazine Top Doctors (2010-2018); Phi Beta Kappa; Alpha Omega Alpha; National Kidney Foundation Research Fellowship Award; American Cancer Society Clinical Fellowship Award; Lamar Fleming Award-Gene Therapy in Prostate Cancer; Patients’ Choice: Rated & Awarded by Patients; Best Clinical Paper Published in European Urology in 2011: “Salvage Radical Prostatectomy for Radiation-Recurrent Prostate Cancer: A Multi-institutional Collaboration”
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Education: MD, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • Residencies: Urology - Los Angeles County - University of Southern California Medical Center
  • Fellowships: Urologic Oncology - Baylor College of Medicine
  • Board Certifications: Urology

See My Colleagues


Books and Book Chapters
“Salvage radical prostatectomy for recurrence of prostate cancer after radiation therapy.” Eastham JA, Scardino PT. In: Comprehensive Textbook of Genitourinary Oncology. 3rd ed. Vogelzang NJ, Scardino PT, Shipley WU, DF Coffey, eds. Baltimore:  Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2006: 306-314.

“Nerve-sparing radical retropubic prostatectomy.” Eastham JA, Jarrard DF. In: Atlas of the Prostate. 3rd ed. Scardino PT, Slawin KM, eds. Philadelphia: Current Medicine; 2006: 145-161.

“Preservation of sexual function after treatment for prostate cancer.” Eastham JA. In: Prostate Cancer: Principles and Practice. Kirby RS, Partin AW, Feneley M, Parsons JK, eds. Abington, UK: Taylor & Francis; 2006: 675-682.

“Expectant management of prostate cancer.” Eastham JA, Scardino PT. In: Campbell’s Urology. 9th ed. Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, Partin AW, Wein AJ, eds. Philadelphia: WB Saunders; 2007.

“Cancer of the prostate.” Zelefsky MJ, Eastham JA, Sartor AO. In: DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s: Cancer Principles & Practice of Oncology. DeVita VT Jr., Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. 9th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011: 1220-1279.

Visit PubMed for a full listing of James A. Eastham’s journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

Research is integral to our mission at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and clinical trials help us discover better forms of patient care and treatment. For you, this could mean access to a new therapy or therapy combination. Click to see a list of the trials I’m currently leading.


Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicare and New York State Medicaid also provide benefits for care at MSK.

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