If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you probably have a lot of questions. Usually, ‘What are my treatment options?’ tops the list. And, it should. Prostate cancer is actually one of the most common cancers found in men. Today, you have a range of treatment options. If diagnosed early, prostate cancer has a high cure rate.
There are several important factors to consider when choosing the best treatment for you.
• The type of cancer cells and their aggressiveness
• Your current PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) level
• Other conditions that you have that may affect the success of the treatment, or that the treatment, itself, may affect.
• Your age
Here are some of the most common ways to treat prostate cancer. Research them; discuss them with your physician, and decide which one is best for you.
Watch and wait (also known as active surveillance)–For men with a cancer that is lower risk, are likely to have slower disease progression, or who need to avoid sexual, urinary and bowel complications, this may be a choice.
Cryotherapy – With cryotherapy, the cancer is targeted by freezing the prostate gland. This destroys the cells in and sometime around it.
Radiation Therapy – X-rays or protons are used to destroy cancer cells. Treatment is usually given multiple times over several week. The three main forms of external radiation are Conformal Radiotherapy (3D-CRT) which uses 3-D planning to target the radiation. This can help to protect the healthy tissue. Intensified Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) uses a newer 3-D CRT technology. Proton Beam Therapy uses proton energy rather than X-ray. It provides a high amount of more targeted radiation. Nearby tissues, particularly the rectum, can be avoided using proton beam therapy.
Another form of radiation therapy is Prostate Brachytherapy in which radioactive seeds are implanted directly in the prostate. Both low dose rate and high dose rate can be used to treat the prostate. They are typically inserted during outpatient surgery.
Keep in mind that radiation therapy is usually combined with hormone therapy.
Hormone Therapy – Cancer in the prostate needs the male hormone (testosterone) to survive and grow. Hormone therapy is designed to lower the amount of testosterone in your body and thus, make the tumor shrink.
Surgery – A radical prostatectomy removes the entire prostate gland, along with the cancer around it. If you have localized prostate cancer, this also provides the opportunity to assess the lymph nodes to determine if the cancer has spread.
If you’re considering an alternative or holistic treatment, be sure to get the facts and discuss them with your doctor, as you would any of these treatment options.