There are many options for prostate cancer treatments available to men today. Choosing the best treatment option will be done taking many factors into consideration, and will involve the patient’s family and doctor in the decision process.
Factors that will be taken into consideration will include the grade and stage of the cancer, as well as the age of the patient and overall health status. Also important to discuss will be any feelings the patient may have about any of the treatment options and the benefits and risks that are associated with them.
Treatment options that may be offered for prostate cancer include:
• “Watchful waiting”. Some early stage prostate cancers that are slow-growing may not require immediate treatment. In these cases, as well as for patients who are older or have other life threatening conditions, what is called “watchful waiting” may be recommended. In these types of cases, the cancer is generally growing so slowly that it is not likely to be fatal. Regular testing will monitor the progress of the disease and any levels of discomfort will be considered. In many cases, especially for older men, this option may be less disruptive than starting cancer treatment.
• Surgery. In cases where surgery is required to remove the entire prostate gland, what is called a radical prostatectomy or laproscopic surgery will be performed. The entire tumour will usually be removed in just one procedure.
• Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs that travel through the bloodstream which can reach cancer cells in distant organs. These cells may not have been removed by surgery, or might not be the target of treatment with radiation. Chemotherapy drugs are powerful and can target and destroy any cells that are growing fast, like cancer cells.
• Radiation and brachytherapy (radioactive seed implants). This is normally a good option for men who are older or not considered good candidates for surgery. Tumour cells will be destroyed by EBRT (external beam radiation therapy) or brachytherapy.
• Hormone treatment. Hormone therapy can be used to reduce the size of the tumour by blocking hormones like testosterone from helping tumours grow. Testosterone is targeted because it is known to help tumours continue growing, so this therapy will help shrink the tumour.
• Cryotherapy. Another treatment option being used, which may be a better alternative for older men or others who may not be good candidates for surgery, is called cryotherapy. This process involves freezing the tumour with liquid nitrogen to destroy and kill any cancer cells.
When detected and treated at the earliest stage, many prostate cancers can be completely cured, although there is often some incontinence or impotence resulting from the treatments. However, there are cases where the cancer has spread or where it may recur. It will be important to have frequent physical exams and blood tests measuring PSA to determine if further treatment will be needed, or if the cancer has returned.
As medicine advances, it is likely there will be even more options for prostate cancer treatments in the future, but even now the many options that are currently available offer great chances of survival for many men suffering from prostate cancer.
National Cancer Insitute: Prostate Cancer Treatment
MayoClinic: Prostate Cancer
American cancer Society: Prostate Cancer
Prostate Cancer Foundation: Treatment Options
MDAnderson Cancer Center: Proton therapy for Prostate Cancer
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Prostate Cancer Treatment
National Cancer Insitute: Treatment Choices for Men with Early Stage Prostate Cancer