All men can feel it, but most are embarrassed to talk about it. We all want to be young, virile men who live life without worry or pain. Unfortunately, prostate cancer is a reality.
Although the disease can affect men of any age, it usually occurs in men over 50 years old and is more common to men who are over 60. Men of African and Caribbean descent usually develop prostate cancer earlier than white men.
There are many different treatments for prostate cancer, but they all have their pros and cons. Some of the more common treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy with drugs like Lupron or Casodex.
Furthermore clinical trials are always ongoing, but they are difficult to get into, and they may or may not be the best option for you.
With any treatment, you will need to discuss your options with a urologist who specializes in these treatments for prostate cancer. You should also talk to your family about what type of treatment is best for you so they know what to expect if it comes up in conversation.
There are some side effects associated with each type of treatment which may impact your everyday life including pain during urination or erections, fatigue or hot flashes as well as bowel changes or decreased sex drive.
But having the effective one to kill cancer cells in prostate tissue and least painful option will be the optimal result.
In this article, I will discuss some of the more common treatments for prostate cancer recommended by big urologists and institutes as well as their effects to combat the disease.
The Treatment Of Prostate Cancer: What are Cancer Cells in The First Place?
Before we begin the discussion, it should be emphasized that cancer cells are not always detectable immediately.
Our understanding of the disease is still in its early stages and greater insights into different types of treatment options should be made available to patients. The goal is to prevent or reduce any risks associated with prostate cancer and the side effects that may come with treatment.
When it comes to prostate cancer, the odds are stacked against men. Although there is no proven cure for the disease, early detection and understanding of treatment options is key in combatting it successfully.
There are two different types of prostate cancer. The first is called ‘localized‘, meaning the cancer is only contained in the gland itself.
The second one is called ‘advanced prostate cancer‘ which often has spread outside the gland and is more difficult to treat.
However, you can still treat advanced prostate cancer effectively with the most advanced treatment available.
Early detection is key to successful treatment without the harsh side effects.
One of these advanced prostate cancer is called metastatic prostate cancer.
Metastatic prostate cancer is cancer that has spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, most often the bones. Bone metastases are very common in men with metastatic prostate cancer, and can cause a great deal of pain and disability.
Whatever is the stage you are at right now, it’s always great to seek treatment before it develops to be advanced prostate cancer.
Types of Treatment to Treat Prostate Cancer
Early stage prostate cancer (stages I and II) treatment options:
A lot of men with early-stage prostate cancer do not need treatment.
The earlier you have it, the higher your chances are to have it cured – all without having to undergo any type of treatment at all.
In other words, depending on how much early, you can kill cancer cells in prostate tissue much easier than other treatment options.
Sometimes this is as easy as getting a regular PSA test that allows doctors to measure the amount of testosterone in your bloodstream and can let them know if you have prostate cancer or not.
In this case, you might just need to take some medications and you will be good to go.
Stage I or stage II prostate cancer can also be treated with radiation therapy, but it is definitely not the first option.
For men who are younger than 65 years old and have low-risk prostate cancer that hasn’t spread outside of the gland, then surgery may be the best choice for you.
Cryotherapy or cryosurgery:
Cryotherapy is a type of treatment that uses extremely cold temperatures to kill cancer cells. It is normally used only on the prostate gland and nearby tissues.
During cryosurgery, your doctor will insert a probe into the area around the prostate gland and pump in nitrous oxide gas at very low temperature (around −200°C) until your whole pelvis is filled with gas.
They will then raise the temperature of your prostate gland, prostate capsule and seminal vesicles to around −80°C for a minute or two. This causes all cancer cells in these areas to die off.
Cryosurgery is used to treat several kinds of cancer. It includes treatments for basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma cancers.
Patients are given specific medications before they have the treatment to help reduce pain or swelling.
The areas where the ice will be placed are numbed to make sure that they’re numb and medication is injected into the area around lymph nodes and arteries to help prevent damage.
You will need to spend about a day in the hospital after cryosurgery, you’ll most likely be able to go home on the same day but if there are any complications then it might take 2 days until you go back home.
Because there is minimal blood loss with this procedure you will need to take about a week off from work, but it’s something that you’ll be able to recover from within a couple of weeks.
The main concern with this treatment option is that it can trigger an erection, but not always this happens.
Cryosurgery is only done in the early stages of prostate cancer. After that, other treatments are generally used which have fewer side effects.
If you found yourself with a manhood full of warts, then this might be your best treatment option for getting rid of it.
Cryosurgery also has side effects. It can lead to infection, pain, and scar tissue growth. There are cases where the cancer returns to the treated area.
High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound
HIFU is a common treatment for prostate cancer. It can be done instead of surgery or radiation therapy, and it’s also used as additional treatment with those things.
HIFU uses ultrasound energy to treat the prostate gland and usually has few side effects like pain during urination, burning sensation when urinating or erectile dysfunction.
People usually take medications to deal with these side effects while they do HIFU and then afterwards. It’s a good option for men who don’t want surgery or radiation therapy.
Hormone therapy is used to treat men with low-risk, early stage prostate cancer. Usually doctors will do this if the tumor in the prostate gland is less than 4 centimeters.
Androgen deprivation therapy is a hormone therapy that can slow down the growth of cancer cells and to shrink tumors. It is also called chemical castration because it lowers the amount of testosterone in the body, so it acts like taking away the male hormones.
Also lifestyle changes can be made when someone does hormone therapy because eating healthy and exercising are shown to help lessen symptoms by improving overall health .
Usually, hormone therapy is done with an androgen deprivation therapy, which blocks male hormones from being produced. Side effects include hot flashes, loss of sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
However, clinical trials and studies have shown that androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) which lowers the level of hormones in men with advanced prostate cancer works well.
Androgen-deprivation therapies can extend life by years, but often cause severe side effects such as impotence and osteoporosis.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be combined with hormone therapy for those who experience severe symptoms like hot flashes or mood changes. The medication gabapentin is also combined to help deal with these side effects.
Watchful waiting : Active surveillance.
This is where a man who doesn’t have symptoms of prostate cancer is watched closely instead of being treated for it.
It’s usually used for men over the age of 70 or those who don’t want treatment and are generally healthy, but it also can be done with younger people.
Active surveillance is often used for men who are older or have other health problems. The doctor will check the prostate yearly with a PSA test and digital rectal exam to make sure there aren’t any changes in the prostate, and if there are then more tests will be conducted.
If the cancer is too aggressive during active surveillance, then surgery or radiation therapy will be done while still continuing with the active surveillance.
A man who chooses the watchful waiting method will have regular check-ups where his blood pressure, prostate specific antigen levels and rectal exam are checked to see if anything abnormal pops up.
If it does, then the patient may undergo treatment for prostate cancer, which is usually surgery or radiation therapy.
Most people who choose this option don’t have to worry about getting treatment, but that’s because most people who choose this option don’t have prostate cancer.
This is for men with severe urinary problems caused by their prostate cancer. It can improve bladder control and help urination start again after an interruption.
A small needle is used to inject a steroid medication into the patient’s prostate gland.
This is a possible treatment for men whose cancer has come back after getting it frozen off, but it can also be used to treat the incontinence side effects of HIFU therapy.
This is a common treatment for prostate cancer . It’s done by implanting radioactive material into the gland. This radioactive material can stay in the gland for up to 10 years, and it gives off low levels of radiation that will destroy cancer cells of prostate tissue.
This is also commonly used in combination with HIFU or hormone therapy.
There are a couple different kinds of immunotherapy for prostate cancer treatment . It’s a new kind of therapy that uses newer drugs to target the immune system.
One is called sipuleucel-T, and it encourages the body’s immune system to attack prostate cancer cells. Another one called Provenge also stimulates the immune system, but only works on men whose bodies don’t produce enough PSA.
These two treatments can cause side effects like muscle aches and infections in some patients.
Radiation therapy is the most common prostate cancer treatment. It’s done by aiming high doses of radiation at the area of the tumor. There are two different kinds, external beam therapy and brachytherapy.
External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) is like traditional radiation therapy, but instead of giving it to patients with an x-ray machine outside their bodies, this type uses radioactive material that’s inserted into their rectum or vagina for pinpoint accuracy.
Another thing that makes EBRT more effective is that doctors will give patients more than one dose of radiation at a time because it can damage healthy tissue like blood vessels if given all in once shot.
Benefits include having less pain than brachytherapy and easy targeting of cancer cells. The only downside is that it takes longer to perform.
Prostate cancer treatment side effects include certain symptoms during the time of the radiation.
Radiation causes damage in healthy cells, so patients can experience burning or swelling when urinating after their treatment. They may also have long-term complications like fatigue and diarrhea because of damage to other areas in your body, too.
Brachytherapy (Internal radiation therapy): This is a procedure that uses radioactive material placed into the prostate gland. It’s administered by an interventional radiologist, but may also be performed by an urologist . Patients don’t need much sedation for this type compared to EBRT, but they’re not fully awake either. Some men get long-term side effects from this treatment like bowel, bladder and rectal problems.
HIFU is also sometimes used in combination with radiation therapy when the cancer has spread to the bones.
Chemotherapy is a treatment for prostate cancer that uses anti-cancer drugs.
It’s commonly used in combination with HIFU or radiation therapy, and it can be given intravenously (IV) or orally (PO). This type of treatment is useful at removing tumor cells before surgery.
Prostate cancer treatment side effects for chemotherapy are the standard ones for chemotherapy like nausea, vomiting, fatigue and hair loss. It also decrease patients’ immune systems, so they’re more likely to get infections after the treatment.
The most common option for prostate cancer treatment is surgery.
Unlike radiation therapy and hormone therapy, surgery is the only treatment that can actually cure prostate cancer by removing the entire tumor along with any affected organs and tissues, giving a patient a 100% chance of being rid of it.
Doctors use one of two ways to perform this procedure, open radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP) or robotic assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (RALP).
An open surgical procedure is the first choice for patients with localized cancer. But if it’s more advanced, doctors would rather use a laparoscopic surgery because it’s minimally invasive and has less chance of complications.
There are two major surgery types for this:
- Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP): One of the most common treatments, a TURP is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that removes the section of a man’s prostate gland responsible for causing cancer. Rather than removing the entire organ or tissue, this surgery only cuts out the ‘bad’ part, but it can have several side-effects. Some men can experience difficulty emptying their bladder after the surgery, and they may have trouble having an erection. This is because the nerves that are close to prostate tissue can be damaged during this type of surgery, causing temporary erectile dysfunction.
- Transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP): It’s the second type of surgery isn’t as invasive but less effective than TURP. Rather than removing the cancerous tissue, TUIP simply cuts it out. This type of surgery is less successful in curing prostate cancer because some tumors are larger than what can be reached with the surgeon’s instruments. The surgeon may also have to take extra tissue along with the tumor when trying to remove it successfully, which isn’t an efficient way to help a man recover from this surgery.
Other alternative treatments are becoming more popular, too. This is because some prostate cancer patients have tried non-traditional methods before trying surgery or radiation therapy.
Some men use herbal remedies to treat their prostate cancer diagnosis. Some examples of these are broccoli seed extract , red clover flower extract and caffeine.
There are also studies that have investigated how omega-3 fatty acids can affect prostate cancer cells. Studies show that these dietary supplements work best on early stage tumors that haven’t spread yet, but it’s still being researched further for treating advanced cases of prostate cancer.
This is especially important for men who don’t want to try any type of mainstream treatment like surgery and/or radiation therapy right away because they might be worried about the risks and side effects that come with it.
Treatment often includes a combination of these types of therapies to get the best results and kill cancer cells of prostate tissue.
Some patients who have tried alternative medicine swear by it, and they’re glad they didn’t choose surgery right away to treat prostate cancer. In fact, some men don’t go through any mainstream treatments at all!
But this is only an option for those who know their cancer isn’t very advanced — if you wait too long to try other methods before an invasive procedure like radiation or surgery, the cancer could spread and cause bigger problems later in life.
But again, these types of alternative treatments are best for men who have early stage cancers and want to try another option before surgery or radiation therapy to kill cancer cells.
Alternative medicine can be a great help on its own, too. Before choosing surgery or radiation therapy, some men try natural treatments like acupuncture or herbal remedies.
Men with prostate cancer also swear by saw palmetto, which is sold commonly in stores and online.
Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in men.
Despite this, there are many different types of treatments available to help men control their condition for years.
One option to go with is surgery, which is one of the most common treatment types for prostate cancer.
This type of surgery is also called a radical prostatectomy, and it’s performed by a urologist. It’s often used to treat men who have early stage or localized cancers — but not all types of cancer can be cured by this procedure.
Radical prostatectomy is the most frequently chosen treatment since it can cure prostate cancer.
But there are some risks involved like erectile dysfunction (it might be temporary or permanent), urinary incontinence (leakage) and infection. Some men also report experiencing pain after surgery, but this only lasts for a few weeks at the most.
Even with the latest clinical trials, there’s no definitive answer as to the best treatment for prostate cancer.
Whatever you do, make sure you consult with your urologist before deciding on a treatment for prostate cancer.
They’ll help guide you through the process of choosing the best option available!
What is the main form of treatment for prostate cancer?
The most common treatment for prostate cancer is surgery (also known as the "radical prostatectomy") because it often cures the disease. However, men might not want to choose this treatment because of the invasive part of it, and some report experiencing erectile dysfunction after.
As always, there is no "best" treatment for prostate cancer because men are different and one option might be better than the rest.
Can prostate be treated without surgery?
It can! There are other treatment options available, such as watchful waiting, radiation therapy and hormonal therapy.
Some men choose to use alternative medicine instead of surgery, but your doctor will always recommend surgery as the main option.
What does hormone therapy do to a man?
It's a treatment mainly used to treat prostate cancer. It uses drugs called anti-androgens to slow or stop the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Also hormone therapy can be used to prevent cancer cells from returning.
How is prostate cancer treated now?
There are many prostate cancer treatment options, including watchful waiting, radiation therapy and hormone therapy.
This is a personal decision that needs to be discussed with a urologist.
Here are the references our researchers used when writing this article: