Piecing Together Your Prostate Cancer Treatment Plan
Many treatment options are available for prostate cancer, and new additional options are right around the corner. You can beat prostate cancer. Nearly 100 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive after five years.
Talk with your primary care doctor, get to know your prognosis, and understand your treatment options before choosing a course of action. Minimizing side effects and maintaining your quality of life are serious factors to consider. Your options may also include treatment still in the research phase if you choose to participate in a clinical trial for experimental treatments and drugs.
Prostate cancer is usually slow growing, so unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you should have plenty of time to learn and consider your options. Your doctor will help you put together a team of specialists and supporters. There are several types of treatment, and different specialists will often recommend different options, so it’s important to know your doctors and get multiple opinions. It’s also important to know how much experience your surgeon has, before the treatment.
No one method has proven to be more effective overall, and each treatment option has its pros and cons.
Know Your Treatment Options
It’s important to keep in mind that every man is different and every case of prostate cancer is different. And there are a number of options for treating prostate cancer. No one method has proven to be more effective overall, and each treatment option has its pros and cons. The decision is yours, with the guidance of your medical team and the support of your loved ones.
For early or local prostate cancer that has not spread outside the prostate gland or nearby area, the most common treatment options are:
- Active Surveillance Prostate cancer can grow slowly, and you may want to wait before jumping into receiving active treatment, depending on what stage you are in. Depending on your situation, deferring treatment for a while may be your best choice.
- Surgery This is the most common option for men under 70 with the cancer confined to the prostate. Surgeons will try to remove the cancer, including local lymph glands if necessary, while trying to spare the surrounding nerves and muscles that affect urinary continence and sexual functioning.
- Radiation This treatment kills cancer cells through external beam radiation therapy, by implanting tiny radioactive seeds through brachytherapy, or by radiosurgery.
- Hormone Therapy This type of therapy starves the cancer cells of testosterone by using drugs that inhibit testosterone production.
- Chemotherapy This is the use of powerful toxic drugs to attack cancer cells. It is generally reserved for men with advanced cases of cancer that has become resistant to hormone therapy.
- Immunotherapy and Cancer Vaccines Cancer immunotherapy is the use of the immune system to reject cancer. The main premise is stimulating the person’s immune system to attack the malignant cells in an effort to destroy them. Vaccines are medicines that boost the immune system’s natural ability to protect the body against disease.
- Cryotherapy (also called cryosurgery) is the use of extreme cold produced by liquid nitrogen (or argon gas) to destroy abnormal tissue by freezing it. As an alternative to surgery or radiation, cryotherapy is minimally invasive surgery that is typically performed as outpatient care.
- High intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, is a therapy that destroys tissue with rapid heat elevation, which essentially “cooks” the tissue.
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Reprinted by the permission of ZERO – The Project to End Prostate Cancer, from www.zerocancer.org.
This article was originally published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, January/February 2011.
Coping® does not endorse or recommend any particular treatment protocol for readers, and this article does not necessarily include information on all available treatments. Articles are written to enlighten and motivate readers to discuss the issues with their physicians. Coping believes readers should determine the best treatment protocol based on physicians’ recommendations and their own needs, assessments and desires.