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The Treatment Options Available For Prostate Cancer

The Treatment Options Available For Prostate Cancer

The management and treatment options available for prostate cancer depend on several factors, like the cancer stage and its effects on the patient. Here’s a summary of the usual treatment strategies recommended by doctors for prostate cancer:

Active surveillance and watchful waiting

Active surveillance

From the name itself, active surveillance means you are “actively” monitoring your condition. Aside from observing for signs and symptoms, you’ll also need to undergo screening tests regularly.

During active surveillance, tests include checking the blood for elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam (DRE). Moreover, the doctor may also recommend biopsies.

If the test results change, you and your doctor may start to work on the treatment available.

Watchful waiting

On the other hand, watchful waiting means less intensive monitoring. The doctor may order fewer tests. Treatment may begin if you experience changes in your symptoms.

Note: These two strategies are helpful regardless of prostate cancer stage and even once you start treatment. However, it is mostly recommended for patients who:

  • Has low PSA levels
  • Experiences no symptoms
  • Has a small tumor that’s not expected to grow
  • Has a tumor confined in the prostate

Surgery

One of the most common treatment options available, especially for early-stage prostate cancer, is surgery, particularly radical prostatectomy. The procedure involves the removal of the entire prostate and surrounding tissues. The surgeon may also remove the affected lymph nodes.

Note: The doctor may recommend radical prostatectomy in later cancer stages. In most cases, the patient receives radiation therapy after their surgery.

Radiation therapy

Radiotherapy is another common treatment strategy for prostate cancer. In this method, the doctor will use high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells.

There are two primary types of radiotherapy:

External radiation

External radiotherapy uses a radiation-emitting machine that targets cancer cells from outside the body. This method is also called external-beam radiation therapy.

During the procedure, you will lie down on a table while the machine moves around your body. Typically, you’ll need to have this therapy for a couple of days a week for several weeks.

treatment available for prostate cancer

Internal radiation

In this method, the radioactive material is sealed within a catheter, seed, needle, or wire, and then placed near or directly in the tumor. It is also called implant radiation therapy or brachytherapy.

Note: The doctor may recommend radiation therapy in different prostate cancer stages, usually with surgery or hormone therapy.

Hormone Therapy

According to experts, male sex hormones (androgens) can cause prostate cancer to grow. For this reason, the doctor may recommend hormone therapy, a kind of strategy that removes androgens or blocks their action. Specifically, this is called androgen-deprivation therapy.

Some of the substances available for this prostate cancer treatment are:

  • Abiraterone acetate, which prevents cancer cells from making androgens.
  • Anti-androgens, which block the actions of androgens.
  • Drugs that inhibit the adrenal glands from making male sex hormones.

Note: The doctor may recommend hormone therapy in any stage of prostate cancer.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to either kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing. The physician may administer the drugs orally or via injection into the muscle or vein.

Note: Generally, doctors do not recommend chemotherapy for stages 1, 2, and 3 cancer. Prostate cancer patients usually begin chemotherapy when their cancer is at stage 4 or has spread outside the prostate gland.

Cryotherapy

Besides the ones we discussed, the doctor may choose another treatment strategy for prostate cancer called cryotherapy.

Men who cannot undergo surgery or receive radiation therapy may have cryotherapy after their doctor’s recommendation. This is the process of freezing the cancer cells, including most of the prostate. Doctors may also recommend it in prostate cancer recurrence.

Note: This is not a common choice in treating prostate cancer.

Key Takeaways

The most common treatment options available for prostate cancer are watchful waiting, active surveillance, surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. Please note that patients often need to treat their condition with a combination of these strategies.

Learn more about Prostate Cancer here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

external radiation therapy
https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/external-radiation-therapy
Accessed January 14, 2021

radical prostatectomy
https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/radical-prostatectomy
Accessed January 14, 2021

internal radiation therapy
https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/internal-radiation-therapy
Accessed January 14, 2021

Chemotherapy for Prostate Cancer
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/treating/chemotherapy.html
Accessed January 14, 2021

Cryotherapy for Prostate Cancer
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/treating/cryosurgery.html
Accessed January 14, 2021

Prostate Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version
https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/patient/prostate-treatment-pdq#_142
Accessed January 14, 2021

Picture of the author
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. on Jan 19
Medically reviewed by Dr. John Paul Abrina, M.D.
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