Win the Fight Against Prostate Cancer!

Prostate Cancer Treatment



There are different types of treatment for patients with prostate cancer.

Different types of treatment are available for patients with prostate cancer. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials.

Before starting treatment, patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.

Four types of standard treatment are used:

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is closely monitoring a patient’s condition without giving any treatment until symptoms appear or change. This is usually used in older men with other medical problems and early-stage disease.

Surgery

Patients in good health are usually offered surgery as treatment for prostate cancer. The following types of surgery are used:

Pelvic lymphadenectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the lymph nodes in the pelvis. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells. If the lymph nodes contain cancer, the doctor will not remove the prostate and may recommend other treatment.

Radical prostatectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the prostate, surrounding tissue, and seminal vesicles. There are 2 types of radical prostatectomy:

Retropubic prostatectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the prostate through an incision (cut) in the abdominal wall. Removal of nearby lymph nodes may be done at the same time.

Perineal prostatectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the prostate through an incision (cut) made in the perineum (area between the scrotum and anus). Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed through a separate incision in the abdomen.



Two types of radical prostatectomy. In a retropubic prostatectomy, the prostate is removed through an incision in the wall of the abdomen. In a perineal prostatectomy, the prostate is removed through an incision in the area between the scrotum and the anus.

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP): A surgical procedure to remove tissue from the prostate using a resectoscope (a thin, lighted tube with a cutting tool) inserted through the urethra. This procedure is sometimes done to relieve symptoms caused by a tumor before other cancer treatment is given. Transurethral resection of the prostate may also be done in men who cannot have a radical prostatectomy because of age or illness.



Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). Tissue is removed from the prostate using a resectoscope (a thin, lighted tube with a cutting tool at the end) inserted through the urethra. Prostate tissue that is blocking the urethra is cut away and removed through the resectoscope.

Impotence and leakage of urine from the bladder or stool from the rectum may occur in men treated with surgery. In some cases, doctors can use a technique known as nerve-sparing surgery. This type of surgery may save the nerves that control erection. However, men with large tumors or tumors that are very close to the nerves may not be able to have this surgery.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Impotence and urinary problems may occur in men treated with radiation therapy.

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that removes hormones or blocks their action and stops cancer cells from growing. Hormones are substances produced by glands in the body and circulated in the bloodstream. Some hormones can cause certain cancers to grow. If tests show that the cancer cells have places where hormones can attach (receptors), drugs, surgery, or radiation therapy are used to reduce the production of hormones or block them from working.

Hormone therapy used in the treatment of prostate cancer may include the following:

Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists can prevent the testicles from producing testosterone. Examples are leuprolide, goserelin, and buserelin.

Antiandrogens can block the action of androgens (hormones that promote male sex characteristics). Two examples are flutamide and bicalutamide.

Drugs that can prevent the adrenal glands from making androgens include ketoconazole and aminoglutethimide.

Orchiectomy is a surgical procedure to remove one or both testicles, the main source of male hormones, to decrease hormone production.

Estrogens (hormones that promote female sex characteristics) can prevent the testicles from producing testosterone. However, estrogens are seldom used today in the treatment of prostate cancer because of the risk of serious side effects.

Hot flashes, impaired sexual function, loss of desire for sex, and weakened bones may occur in men treated with hormone therapy.

New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.

These include the following:

Cryosurgery

Cryosurgery is a treatment that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy prostate cancer cells. This type of treatment is also called cryotherapy.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Biologic therapy

Biologic therapy is a treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer. This type of cancer treatment is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy.

High-intensity focused ultrasound

High-intensity focused ultrasound is a treatment that uses ultrasound (high-energy sound waves) to destroy cancer cells. To treat prostate cancer, an endorectal probe is used to make the sound waves.





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