What Are Your Options for Prostate Cancer Treatment?

medicine, health care, people and prostate cancer concept - happProstate cancer is cancer of the prostate gland, a male reproductive organ that contributes to the production of seminal fluid. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men in the US and the disease is expected to kill 1 out of every 35 men. However, not all prostate growths can be considered cancerous. Malignant growths such as prostate cancer pose a threat to life, invade other cells, and spread to other parts of the body; benign growths do none of these.

Prostate cancer spreads when abnormal cells break away from the prostate tumor. These cells then travel through blood or lymph vessels and attach themselves to other tissues to grow new tumors. These new tumors are made up of the same cells as with the original tumor. For example, if prostate cancer cells attach themselves to the bones, then the bones will start growing prostate cancer cells, too. This disease is now called metastatic prostate cancer.

Considerations for Choosing a Treatment Method

Some considerations when choosing an ideal prostate cancer treatment are the patient’s age; his tolerance to specific medicines, procedures, or therapies; the extent of the disease and how it is expected to progress; and the patient’s opinion or preference.

Treatment Options

  1. Active Surveillance

If discovered early, prostate cancer can be addressed with active surveillance. It is a viable option for men who are not too keen on undergoing therapy or surgery. Also called watchful waiting, this method involves carefully monitoring the tumor’s progress by conducting prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, digital rectal exam (DRE), and repeated biopsy of the tumor for 1 year. Should the disease exhibit symptoms, the patient and prostate oncologist can decide on the next course of action.

  1. Surgery

Removing a part or the entirety of the prostate by surgery is called prostatectomy. This method is usually used with patients in the early stage of the disease where the cancer is still confined to the prostate.  During the surgery, the prostate is removed and the urethra is stitched directly to the bladder. It takes the body a few days to adjust to this new setup so the patient will have to use a catheter for a week up to 10 days after the operation.

  1. Radiation Therapy

In lieu of surgery, radiation therapy may be used as the primary treatment for prostate cancer. This method uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. There are 2 types of radiation therapy. The first, external beam radiotherapy, delivers radiation to the prostate from outside the body. The second, prostate brachytherapy or internal radiation therapy, is done by placing grain-sized radioactive materials in the prostate via needles or catheter.

  1. Hormone Therapy
    Hormone therapy lowers or blocks testosterone and other male sex hormones that fuel the growth of prostate cancer cells. It is an option for those who are unwilling to undergo surgery. However, hormone therapy has a number of major side effects that include anemia, erectile dysfunction, lethargy, and osteoporosis. This prostate cancer treatment has also been linked to heart diseases and increased risk of developing diabetes.
  2. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cells, regardless if they are cancerous or not. These drugs are either ingested or introduced directly to the bloodstream. It is not considered a primary prostate cancer treatment, but it is an option if the disease has already metastasized.




Pamela Miller

View posts by Pamela Miller
Pamela Miller works as a content manager for Saint John's Health Center. She contributes health and wellness articles and participates in Cancer Awareness Campaigns in California.
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