The options for prostate cancer treatment
The issue of patient choice is very important in the management of prostate cancer. There are sometimes several treatment options (each with a comparable chance of cure) for a particular stage of disease – this is especially so for the earliest cases, picked up by PSA alone (see screening) and with disease confined within the prostate on MRI scan.
In simple terms, prostate cancer can be divided into cancer that has not spread, which is called ‘localised disease’, and cancer that has spread, either “locally” extending outside the prostate itself or involving distant organs, such as lymph nodes or bone (“distant” or metastatic disease).
For early disease, there are several methods by which doctors can cure prostate cancer, which means that patients need to know about all the methods that might stand a comparable chance of curing their prostate cancer.
For localised prostate cancer that has not spread from the prostate, the treatment options include radiation therapy, brachytherapy, surgery and medical monitoring without any active treatment. For some patients prostate cancer may be contained within the prostate, not metastasising/causing any harm for the duration of their lives – this is the group for which a “watchful/waiting” policy may be recommended.
Treatment options for advanced prostate cancer
Where the disease is more advanced and throughout the capsule of the gland, therapy is recommended and the options are: hormone therapy, radiation therapy or both; failing this: chemotherapy may be appropriate. The patient with prostate cancer needs to be informed about the best way to look after their cancer..
In some cases alternative approaches such as complementary medicine, acupuncture and hypnosis may have a role in treatment and managing symptoms.
Summary of treatment options