Prostate cancer occurs in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Read more about prostate cancer here.
Factors affecting treatment method of prostate cancer:
- Overall health of the patient and medical history
- Age is an important factor, since the cancer is slow spreading, one may not need treatment in their lifetime.
- Symptoms presented by the patient
- Spreading of the cancer
- Side effects with the treatments available
- The patient’s acceptance of cancer and need for active treatment
What are the treatment options for prostate cancer?
The following are the treatment options available for prostate cancer:
Because this cancer type grows very slowly, men may often not require any treatment immediately if not throughout their lifetime. Active surveillance is a method of monitoring the cancer closely regularly. PSA blood test, DRE (digital rectal examination), prostate biopsies may be done once in six months or so. If the results show signs of the cancer spreading, other treatment options are reviewed to eliminate the cancer.
This treatment uses high beams of x-rays to kill the malignant cells. The radiation is aimed at the cancer cells to kill them, restrict their growth and to shrink tumours. The two main types of radiation therapy used in the treatment of prostate cancer:
- External beam radiation: In external beam radiation therapy, also called EBRT, beams of radiation are focused on the prostate gland from a machine outside the body and it is used to treat the early stages of cancer.
- Brachytherapy: Also called seed implantation or interstitial radiation therapy, small radioactive pellets of the size of a grain of rice are placed directly inside the prostate gland. This treatment is used alone in patients in the early stages of cancer showing relatively slow growth.
Read more about radiation therapy of prostate cancer here.
Surgery is the preferred choice of treatment for prostate cancers that show symptoms but is confined to the the prostate gland. The main type of surgery used is called radical prostatectomy, in which in addition to the prostate gland, the tissue around it including the seminal vesicles may be removed. Radical retropubic prostatectomy and radical perineal prostatectomy are the two types of surgeries depending on how the prostate is approached. Read more about surgery for prostate cancer here.
Hormone therapy is used when the cancer has spread too much to allow radiation or surgery or the cancer has risk of recurrence, or to shrink the cancer before radiation therapy. Also called androgen deprivation therapy or androgen suppression therapy, this treatment aims to reduce the level of androgens, the male hormones in human which stimulate growth of prostate. Hormone therapy can shrink the cancer or slow down its growth but this treatment alone cannot cure prostate cancer. Read more about hormone therapy for prostate cancer here.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body and is used if the prostate cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland or if there is a chance of recurrence. It is not the standard treatment for this cancer type and is usually opted if hormone therapy is not working. The treatment is given in cycles of medication and rest to allow the body to recover and reduce the intensity of side effects. Read more about chemotherapy for prostate cancer here.