Prostate Cancer Treatment Options
by: Andrew Bicknell
There are a number of options when it comes to prostate cancer treatment, but which option is used will depend on a number of different factors including the stage and grade of the cancer as well as the age, health, and personal preferences of the men who suffer from it. Because prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men and the leading cause of cancer related deaths among men it is important that all men are regularly screened for it and are aware of the treatment options available to them.
Cancer occurs when cells of the prostate mutate and begin to multiply out of control. This can cause the prostate to enlarge, resulting in symptoms such as difficulty in urinating, frequent urination, and blood in the urine. Cancerous tumors can also metastasize and spread to other parts of the body through the circulatory system or lymph system where they can grow secondary tumors. All of this can have a direct relationship as to which treatment will work best.
Prostate cancer is usually staged according to the system known as TNM (tumor, node, metastasis), in which the cancer is characterized by its extent within the prostate gland itself (tumor or T stage), whether the lymph nodes in the region are involved with cancer (node or N stage), and whether the cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body (metastasis or M stage).
Treatment for prostate cancer may involve watchful waiting, surgery, radiation therapy, High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), chemotherapy, cryosurgery, hormonal therapy, or some combination of these treatments. Again, the method used will depend on the cancer itself, the grade, stage and whether or not is has metastasized.
For tumors that are still inside the prostate, radiation therapy (using x-rays that kill the cancer cells) and a surgery called radical prostatectomy are common treatment options. There are two forms of radiation therapy that can be used; either by an external beam or interstitial implants known as seed therapy. There is usually more discomfort after this treatment and many men feel very tired at the end of the treatment period. About 15% to 30% of men who have radiation therapy have urinary burning, urinary bleeding, frequent urination, rectal bleeding, rectal discomfort or diarrhea during or shortly after the treatment.
"Watchful waiting" is also a treatment option. In this approach, no treatment is given until the tumor gets bigger. This is more normal with elderly men whom may not tolerate traditional treatments.
If the cancer has spread into the tissue surrounding the prostate gland treatment with hormone therapy is normally called for. This treatment helps to prevent the cancer from spreading any further and is standard treatment to prevent secondary tumors or cell metastasis.
Choosing a treatment for prostate cancer is not easy and will depend on a number of factors such as your age and whether the cancer has spread and if so, how far. Following the advice of your doctor is highly recommended, but if your questions are not satisfactorily answered or you have concerns it doesn't hurt to get a second opinion. After treatment for prostate cancer, your doctor will want to watch you carefully, checking to see if your cancer recurs or spreads further.
To learn more about Prostate Health please visit the website Prostate Health Answers by clicking here.
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