Prostate Cancer Treatment Overview
Prostate cancer is often curable, especially if the disease it caught in the earlier stages. Nowadays, approximately 90% of all prostate cancer diagnoses are made in the earlier stages and out of those, almost 100% of the patients have a relative survival rate of over five years.
There are several different treatment options available for prostate cancer patients. When a patient is diagnosed with prostate cancer, it is best that they receive appropriate treatment for the disease.
The stage the cancer guides medical professionals in determining what road to travel for the treatment options. Treatment options include:
o Radical Prostatectomy
o Standard Non-Nerve Sparing Surgery
o Standard Nerve Sparing Surgery
o External radiation therapy (XRT)
o Hormone therapy
o Watchful waiting
Surgery: The surgery option involves removing the prostate in one form or the other. Radical prostatectomy removes the entire prostate gland. The side effects can include things such as impotence, decrease in the potency of the semen, and others.
In the other two forms of surgery mentioned above, the surgeon cuts out the cancerous area of the prostate. In the nerve sparing surgery, the surgeon cuts as close to the area as possible, and spares the nerves. In the non-nerve sparing surgery, the surgeon allows more room and makes a wider cut, taking the nerves with the section that is being removed. This is done to help ensure that no cancerous cells are left behind.
Radiation: Brachytherapy is a form of internal radiation where radiation can be applied to a more concise, pinpointed area. Seeds (capsules) can be inserted that contain radioactive material and target the cancerous area. Brachytherapy is usually a one-time treatment until the results can be seen. Brachytherapy is done as an outpatient procedure.
External radiation therapy (XRT): Radiation is applied by a machine from outside of the body. XRT is done as outpatient procedures and usually takes from 7 to 8 weeks.
Cryosurgery: The prostate gland is frozen in an attempt to kill the cancer. This type of treatment usually takes place when surgery is not an option because the cancer is at an advanced stage even though it is still located within the prostate.
Hormone therapy: This is used usually in combination with other treatments such as surgery. Hormone therapy cannot cure cancer and it has a better survival rate when it is used in combination with other treatment options. In hormone therapy, patients take medication (usually) to lower the hormone levels, as this can help to slow the tumor’s growth.
Watchful Waiting: Believe it or not, watchful waiting is a legitimate treatment option. Prostate cancer, in some cases, tends to grow slowly. Men can live full whole lives and never have a problem associated with their prostate cancer diagnosis. There have also been autopsies performed on men where prostate cancer was found although the men and their doctors never even knew about it. Watchful waiting might be an appropriate course of action for men who are above the age of 70 when first diagnosed with prostate cancer.