Prostate Cancer Treatment

Summary: There are four main treatment choices for prostate cancer: watch and wait, surgery, radiation therapy and hormonal therapy.

The prostate gland is found in men within the pelvic area & below the bladder. The prostate gland creates part of the seminal fluid which is released during sex.

In the earliest stage, prostate cancer develops in the prostate gland but can spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment decisions for prostate cancer are usually made after a number of factors are considered. These can can include how developed the cancer is and how far it has spread.

Staging, in which the cancer is assigned a number marking its development (1 , 2 , 3 , 4), helps when deciding appropriate treatment options.

Another factor which can influence a treatment decision is the age of the patient.

For example, a decision to remove the prostate gland of a patient who has early stage prostate cancer is more likely to be taken in a younger patient. A younger patient may have a more aggressive form of this disease and more years ahead of them in which the cancer can develop.

Treatments For Prostate Cancer Include:

Watch & Wait

This option is a 'do nothing' (wait) approach in which no actual treatment is given. Instead, the cancer is monitored (watched). If the cancer develops further, other treatment options may be given.

Watch & Wait is usually taken during the early stage of cancer (stage 1 & 2), particularly in older patients and where the prostate cancer is slow growing and not aggressive in nature, and, where there are no symptoms. Older patients with early stage prostate cancer may be more likely to die from other causes.

Surgery: Prostate Removal

The removal of the prostate gland (and connected seminal vesicles) is a procedure known as a 'Radical Prostatectomy'. This surgical treatment can cure the cancer by physically removing it from the body.

Success is achieved if the prostate gland is removed before cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. However, this procedure can bring its own complications. Nerves surrounding the prostate can be damaged during surgery which can affect sexual functioning. Impotence, an inability to have or maintain an erection, is a common side effect of a prostatectomy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a less invasive treatment compared to surgery. The aim of radiation therapy is to shrink tumors, reduce their growth rate and to kill prostate cancer cells. Common side effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer include fatigue and nausea.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone medical treatment for prostate cancer is known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).

Androgens such as testosterone are male hormones found in the body. At normal or elevated levels, androgens are thought to promote cancer growth.

ADT reduces the level of androgens which helps slow down the spread of cancer and shrink tumors.