There are a variety of treatment options for prostate cancer. The choice depends on many factors, including the stage of cancer, and the patient's age and general health. Dr. Jerman, can you tell us about some of these treatment options?
Of course, Dr. Green. One treatment approach is watchful waiting, a passive technique used when it's suspected that the cancer is growing slowly and not causing symptoms. The condition is carefully monitored with regular physical exams and tests. Treatment aimed at preventing or alleviating symptoms may be offered.
Another treatment approach is surgery. The surgical procedure used most often to treat early stages of prostate cancer is known as radical prostatectomy. The goal of this procedure is to remove the entire prostate gland and seminal vesicles while preserving nearby structures, such as the nerves that control urination and sexual function. There are a number of techniques that can be used to perform this procedure.
Hormonal manipulation is another treatment option. Medications that lower or eliminate the levels of testosterone can be used to shrink or slow the growth of prostate tumors for long periods of time, but cannot permanently cure prostate cancer.
Another way to eliminate the production of testosterone is to perform surgery to remove the testes using a procedure called orchiectomy. Hormone manipulation is mainly used to relieve symptoms in men who have advanced stages of prostate cancer.
Radiation therapy is another treatment approach. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to destroy prostate cancer cells and shrink tumors. External radiation is delivered to the prostate using a device that resembles a normal X-ray machine. Alternatively, internal radiation, also called brachytherapy, involves placement of radioactive material inside the patient, directly in or near the tumor. This technique enables delivery of a high dose of radiation to the tumor while reducing the dose of radiation to surrounding normal tissues.
Finally, chemotherapy can be used to treat prostate cancers that are resistant to hormonal treatments, or cancers that have already spread outside the prostate at the time of diagnosis. A single drug or a combination of drugs may be used, depending on the type and stage of cancer.