Prostate Cancer Treatments

If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you will want to learn and understand your treatment options, along with the risks and benefits of each.

In order to determine if you have prostate cancer your physician will examine you, review your PSA results and biopsy results. A biopsy is the only way to determine if you have cancer. At the time of your biopsy the tissue was sent to a pathologist who examined it under a microscope.

Based upon the appearance of the cells the pathologist assigned a Gleason score. The Gleason score consists of two numbers to a total of 10. A Gleason score of 5 is the lowest reported and 10 is the highest. The higher the number the more aggressive the disease is. The pathologist will have determined how much of each sample was cancerous from 1% to 100%. Based upon all the information additional tests, including bone scan or computed tomography scans (CT san) may be ordered. Your physician will use all of this information when discussing your options with you.

The best treatment option for you will depend on the stage of your prostate cancer; whether the cancer is localized or has spread; your age and health. Traditional cancer treatments, like the ones on this page, are options, but the risk factors must be weighed. There are treatment alternatives to surgery that can be very effective for localized prostate cancer, including High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU).

Surgery

(radical prostatectomy)
The whole prostate is removed with the seminal vesicles, the deferent canals (which conduct the sperm), part of the bladder neck and the surrounding lymph nodes.

This surgical intervention is invasive and involves the use of general anesthesia for 3 to 4 hours and hospitalization for a number of days.

At the localized stage (stages T-1 or T-2) a radical prostatectomy can be curative but it usually results in impotence and can result in moderate to severe urinary incontinence.

Like any other major surgery it can also have complications and can have a prolonged recovery time.

External Beam RadioTherapy (EBRT)


This treatment involves the use of very high-energy rays directed at the prostate gland using a special machine.

Radiotherapy does not require anesthesia and the treatment is usually done on an outpatient basis.

Patients are usually treated five days per week in a cancer clinic over a period of seven or eight weeks with each session lasting a few minutes.

Complications include marked inflammation of the bladder and/or rectum, as well as impotence as a late complication (6 to 12 months after treatment).

Late side effects can also include soilage of stool because of damage to the rectal sphincter. Recurrent cancer after EBRT is not uncommon and is very difficult to treat.