Prostate Cancer Treatment

Prostate Cancer Treatment involves a lot of decision-making. There are issues that need to be addressed before selecting a treatment option for the patient:

1.    Severity of the disease. The severity and extent of the disease will determine what type of treatment options are best recommended for you. Obviously, a lower stage of prostate cancer calls for a more conservative treatment, while higher stages demand a more aggressive approach. As previously discussed, prostate biopsy will determine the level of severity of the disease.

2.    Age and health condition. Patients who are older and who have other health conditions may be recommended to have frequent checkups rather than treating the prostate cancer. This is because of the fragility of the patient’s health that the treatment of prostate cancer may do more harm than good.

3.    Preference of patient. Prostate cancer treatments should be discussed between you and your doctor. An informed decision should be made and this could be done through asking a lot of questions and researching on the process of the treatment, its benefits and side effects.

Specific prostate cancer treatment methods involve watchful waiting, surgery, radiation, and hormonal manipulation. The following will discuss its benefits and its side effects.

Watchful waiting or what is called active monitoring is usually recommended for earlier stages, where the cancer is still localized. This is advisable for older patient with slow growing cancers. Patients will benefit from this type of treatment because of the lesser risk of danger to their health. The side effects of this treatment would be on the part of the patient especially if he is non-compliant with the frequent checkups, or the prostate problems don’t bother them.

Another Prostate Cancer Treatment is surgery. Surgery is commonly recommended in early stage of the diseases in order to prevent the spread of cancer to surrounding tissues. In surgery, the physician may operate to totally or partially remove the prostate. The most preferred type of surgery would be the radical prostatectomy, where the entire prostate is removed. The prostate gland is not a vital organ; therefore its removal won’t endanger the remaining life of the patient.

For intermediate prostate cancer stages, radiotherapy or radiation therapy is recommended on top of surgery. This Prostate Cancer Treatment uses beams of X-ray to eradicate cancer cells on a specific area. Radiation treatment for prostate cancer is used in this way in order to eliminate any cancer cells that was not removed from surgery. There are two types of prostate cancer radiation therapy:

1.    External radiation – radiation source is from outside the body, this is done through a machine that directs beams of radiation to the body.

2.    Internal radiation – may include implantation of radioactive seeds inside or near the tumor.

Radiation therapy causes a myriad of side effects, which may include temporary symptoms of increased frequency in urination, diarrhea, fatigue and rashes on the area where the beam is directed. Long-term side effects include impotence, rectal irritation and difficulty in urinating.

Hormonal therapy is based on the premise that some cancer cells growing in the prostate are androgen-dependent. This means that the high levels of testosterone in the blood feed the cancer cells, causing it to spread rapidly. Hormonal therapy is recommended for recurring prostate problems after surgery, or if the cancer has spread to distant organs that it cannot be cured, but only control its growth.

Some of the side effects of this prostate cancer treatment are related to lowered level of male hormones, thus impotence is reported. Other common and uncomfortable side effects are hot flushes, sweating, breast tenderness, weight gain, memory problems, osteoporosis and increased risk for heart attacks.

Orchiectomy (removal of the testicles) and hormone supplements or replacement (estrogen etc) are some of the forms of hormonal therapy. Although this Prostate Cancer Treatment is commonly used, its effectiveness is yet to be clearly proven.