Your Treatment Options
Treatment for Prostate Cancer
If you've been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you're not alone. One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, and prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide.1
With the many advancements in prostate cancer treatment, such as advances in screening, medical research, and technology, survival rates for prostate cancer have improved significantly in recent years. More than 80% of all prostate cancers are detected when the cancer is confined to the prostate or the region around it, and treatment success rates are high compared with many other types of cancer.1Prostate Cancer Statistics Fact Sheet
Prostate cancer treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Every individual's journey with prostate cancer is unique, and various treatment options are available depending on factors such as the stage of cancer, grade, and overall health of the patient. Prostate cancer treatment aims not only to eradicate or control the cancer but also to prioritize the patient's quality of life.
Below is an overview of different treatment modalities for prostate cancer, including observation/active surveillance, surgery (prostatectomy), radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, cryotherapy, and immunotherapy.
Observation/Active Surveillance: Observation, or active surveillance, is a treatment approach suitable for low-risk prostate cancer cases. With this strategy, the patient undergoes regular monitoring through PSA blood tests, digital rectal exams, and periodic biopsies to track the cancer's progression. Treatment may be initiated if there are signs of disease progression.
Surgery (Prostatectomy): Prostatectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the entire prostate gland. It is typically recommended for localized prostate cancer cases. The two main types of prostatectomy are radical retropubic and robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy. Potential side effects may include urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells or inhibit their growth. It can be delivered externally (external beam radiation therapy) or internally (brachytherapy). Radiation therapy is employed at various stages and grades of prostate cancer, including localized and locally advanced cases. While modern advances in radiation technology allow for accurate tumor targeting, surrounding healthy tissue may still be at risk for exposure, which can cause side effects. Side effects may include fatigue, urinary problems, bowel changes, and sexual dysfunction.
Rectal Spacing and Radiation Therapy: To minimize prostate radiation side effects, a rectal spacer, such as Barrigel, may be inserted prior to radiation treatment. The spacer creates distance between the prostate and rectum, reducing radiation dose to the rectum to help protect against rectal side effects.2
Hormone Therapy: Hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), aims to lower the levels of male hormones (androgens) in the body, as they can promote the growth of prostate cancer. It is often combined with other prostate cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy, for intermediate and advanced prostate cancer. Side effects may include hot flashes, loss of libido, and osteoporosis.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves using drugs to kill cancer cells or slow down their growth. It is typically used in advanced cases of prostate cancer that have spread to other parts of the body. Common side effects include nausea, hair loss, fatigue, and increased susceptibility to infections.
Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy is a type of focal therapy specifically targeting the tumor rather than the entire prostate. It involves freezing and thawing cancerous prostate tissue to destroy cancer cells. It may be considered for localized prostate cancer cases, especially for those who cannot undergo surgery. Side effects may include urinary problems, erectile dysfunction, and in rare cases, damage to surrounding tissues.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy utilizes drugs that enhance the body's immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. It is a newer treatment option that may be used in advanced prostate cancer cases. Side effects can vary depending on the specific immunotherapy drug used.
The choice of treatment for prostate cancer depends on various factors, including the stage and grade of the cancer, overall health, and patient preferences. Each treatment option carries its benefits and potential side effects. Discussing these prostate cancer treatment options with your doctor is important to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for you
- Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer. 2023. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/prostate-cancer/about/key-statistics. Accessed June 12, 2023.
- Mariados NF, Orio PF III, Schiffman Z et al. Hyaluronic acid spacer for hypofractionated prostate radiation therapy: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Oncol. 2023: e1-e8.