Prostate Cancer Treatment Info

A wide variety of prostate cancer treatment methods exists. Your choices will, in part, be determined by the spread of the cancer, your physical health, and the severity of your symptoms. You may need to choose between several different options.

Watchful Waiting

Sometimes the best prostate cancer treatment is no treatment at all. If the tumor is slow growing, and if symptoms are not debilitating, your physician may suggest “watchful waiting.” Symptoms, PSA levels, and tumor growth are all monitored, and treatment is only begun when absolutely necessary. Watchful waiting balances current health against the risks of medical side effects.

Surgical Options and Erectile Dysfunction

A number of surgical options exist for prostate cancer. If the cancer is in the early stages, a radical prostatectomy may be performed. This surgery removes the entire gland, and, hopefully, all malignant cells. Surgical damage to blood vessels and nerves may occur during the procedure, and may lead to unwanted side effects, such as erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence or bowel disorders.

If the cancer has spread to other organs, a prostatectomy is not an option. A different form of surgery, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) can be performed to alleviate urination difficulties caused by the growing tumor. Again, erectile dysfunction is a possible side effect of the surgery.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherpay uses radiowaves, radiation, or x-rays to shrink tumors and destroy abnormal cells. New innovations in radiotherapy include surgically implanting radioactive material next to the malignant tissue, which reduces the radiation exposure to normal, healthy cells. Bowel dysfunction is a possible side effect of radiation therapy.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy restricts the production and activity of testosterone, which has been shown to slow the growth of tumors. Hormone therapy is not a cure, but can extend life and alleviate symptoms.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses powerful systemic drugs to kill rapidly dividing cells. Unfortunately, chemotherapy also destroys healthy cells. Chemotherapy offers palliative care to men whose disease has metastasized. The treatment has a number of side effects, but can reduce symptom severity.

Resources

American Foundation for Urologic Disease. (nd). How is prostate cancer treated? Retrieved January 27, 2003 from www.afud.org/conditions/pctreat.html.

U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. (nd). Prostate cancer treatment: Advanced systemic disease. Retrieved January 27, 2003 from www.cancer.med.umich.edu/prostcan/proadvanced.htm.