Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

You’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer.  The next step is to find out what prostate cancer treatment options are available for you, learn about them, and make an informed decision as to what course of action is most appropriate.

There are a wide array of prostate cancer treatment options available to men suffering from prostate cancer.  Each of them come with a host of potential prostate cancer treatment side-effects ranging from inconvenient to those which will alter the course of your daily life with some significance.  It is vitally important that you educate yourself about all available prostate cancer treatment option and to discuss them with your medical team.  Doing so gives you all of the information that you need to make the best decision for yourself and your family as you move through the treatment process.

Though the list below is not all-inclusive and more treatment options are on the horizon, we will summarize the following:

  • Active Surveillance
  • Prostatectomy (Surgery)
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Active Surveillance

Active surveillance, also referred to as “watchful waiting”, has recently become a realistic and appropriate option for men deciding against a surgical option or radiation treatments.

Through careful monitoring of the prostate gland area, your prostate cancer is closely monitored for any signs that the cancer is progressing.  This is “active surveillance.”  The front line tests; the PSA blood test and digital rectal exams – will be undertaken at regular, prescribed intervals.  Following those, a repeat biopsy is scheduled at the one year mark and future prostate biopsies scheduled for continuing monitoring.  Should additional symptoms develop, or if these tests indicate the cancer is spreading, consideration for more intensive prostate cancer treatments may be recommended.  For more details, please see our source links at the bottom of the blog post.

Surgical Prostatectomy

In the event that the name isn’t clear, a prostatectomy involves the removal of part or all of the prostate gland.  Generally, men suffering from early-stage cancer which is relegated to the prostate may undergo a radical prostatectomy.  This this entails the removal of the entire prostate gland and some surrounding tissue. If you have advanced prostate cancer or a recurrence of it, further operations may be required.

The most common form of this surgery is called a radical retropubic prostatectomy. During the procedure, an incision is made in the abdomen and the prostate is removed from behind the pubic bone. The urethra is surgically attached to the bladder directly to allow for urine to eventually flow from the body post-op.  For more details, please see our source links at the bottom of the blog post.

Radiation Therapy

The objective of radiation therapy is to kill cancer cells and the surrounding tissues with directed radioactive exposure. Some forms of radiation therapy may also be used in men with advanced stage prostate cancer or if the cancer recurs.  The three most common types of prostate cancer radiation therapy are: external beam radiation therapy, proton therapy, and brachytherapy.

With external beam radiation therapy, the most common form of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and commuted tomography (CT Scan) are undertaken to map the location of the tumor cell.  Radiation in the form of x-rays are subsequently targeted against those cancerous areas.  3-D conformal radiotherapy determines the precise location of the prostate tumors enabling a maximum dose of radiation against the cancerous cells within the prostate gland.

With proton therapy, there exists some advantages over the previously described radiation therapy.  The most significant of those advantage is precision.  The protons of energetic particles can be directed toward a tumorous target without destroying surrounding tissue, causing the death of the cancer cells as they are vulnerable to destruction due to their accelerated division.  This directed approach is particularly helpful when treating localized prostate cancer that has not yet spread to other parts of the body.  For more details, please see our source links at the bottom of the blog post.

Less frequently used, brachytherapy requires the use of tiny metal pellets containing radioactive iodine or palladium.  These radioactive pellets are inserted into the prostate through injections administered through the skin behind the testicles. Precise cancer cell mapping is used to ensure proper insertion of the radioactive pellets to the specified location(s).  These pellets will provide radiation to the affected area in order to kill the prostate cancer cells.  Over the course of about one year’s time, the radioactive material degrades and the remaining pellets are harmless to the patient.  For more details, please see our source links at the bottom of the blog post.

Hormone Therapy

The testosterone hormone is the main nourishment for the growth of prostate cancer cells.  Therefore, testosterone is a main target for therapeutic intervention in men suffering from prostate cancer.

The purpose of hormone therapy is to stop the release of testosterone.  At a minimum, the goal is to prevent testosterone from feeding the prostate cancer cells and allowing it to continue to grow and spread unabated.   The main role of hormone therapy is usually in men with advancing prostate cancer.  However, it is becoming used with greater frequency in men before, during, and/or after localized treatment, too.  There are a number of different hormone therapy approaches available and for more detailed information about those, please see our source links at the bottom of the blog post.

Chemotherapy

Any type of therapy using chemicals to kill cancerous tumors or otherwise halt growth of cancer cells is termed “chemotherapy”. Chemotherapy drugs (cocktails) work in many different ways.  Each is based on the same basic goal and that is to stop the cancer cells from dividing.  Stop cancer cells from dividing and the growth or spread of the prostate cancer tumor(s) ceases, too.

Historically, chemotherapy was used only to relieve symptoms associated with very advanced cancers or metastatic disease. However, the publication of two studies in 2004 showing that the use of docetaxel (Taxotere) can prolong the lives of men with prostate cancer not responding to hormone therapy, it’s being increasingly used due to the potential benefits to men being treated for advanced prostate cancer.

For all of these prostate cancer treatment options and to read more about additional and emerging prostate cancer therapies – please visit the websites listed below.   Help us increase awareness for men and prostate cancer by sharing this with friends, family, and anyone you know who can benefit from our efforts.

Sources:

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