The treatment for prostate cancer is dependent on the stage of the cancer and the individual. There is usually more than one ‘good’ option, so patient preference often plays a major role in the choice of treatment. It is important that you consider the full range of options, including the ‘watch and wait’ option.
Talk with your urologist, radiation oncologist and medical oncologist to help you weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of different treatment options and possible side effects like incontinence and erectile dysfunction, availability and cost to help you make an informed decision about the best treatment for you.
Some of the treatment options include:
Active surveillance or watchful waiting
As some prostate cancers grow very slowly, certain men diagnosed with prostate cancer may not need immediate treatment. 1
- PSA Blood Test – PSA is a substance produced by both normal and malignant prostate cells. Testing for PSA levels in the blood may help to detect prostate cancer. Please consult your doctors on benefits and limitations of using PSA blood test for detection and monitoring.1
- Digital Rectal Exam – active surveillance will also require a rectal exam every 6 months to monitor any changes in the prostate.2
- MRI scans – takes a picture of the body using magnetic fields and radio waves, these scans are usually required every year under active surveillance.
This treatment procedure usually involves the removal of the whole prostate (radical prostatectomy), in an attempt to cure the patient of prostate cancer.
This type of treatment is often used in men with early prostate cancer that hasn’t spread, although it can also be used in combination with other treatments, or if the cancer has recurred after previous treatment.4
There are two main types of radiation therapy treatments used for prostate cancer:
- External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) which uses one or more beams to deliver high energy x-rays from outside the body to the cancerous area. Treatment is usually given over 4–8 weeks; each treatment is about 15 minutes.
- Stereotactic radiation therapy can be used to treat advanced prostate cancer where the disease has started to spread to other parts of the body
- Seed brachytherapy (the insertion of radioactive seeds injected into the prostate that destroy the cancer cells).
You can learn more about radiation therapy and the specific techniques used for prostate cancer here.
Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT)
A type of therapy used to reduce the amount of testosterone in the body.2
- This type of therapy can be used before, during and after other treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.2
- ADT can be given as a tablet or as an injection.2
Uses drugs that destroy cancer cells (and healthy cells too). This type of treatment is usually offered to men where their prostate cancer has spread to other areas of their body. Because chemotherapy destroys some healthy cells as well, there can be side effects such as hair loss, nausea and vomiting, mouth sores and fatigue. 3