There are many treatment options for prostate cancer available today. Basically the type of treatment will depend on the extent of the disease as well as the age and health of the patient, expected life span, personal assessment of the potential risks and side effects of the treatment.
For tumors that are still contained within the prostate itself, radiation therapy and radical prostatectomy are common treatment options. Sometimes, no treatment is given until the tumor gets bigger. For the older men who have larger risks of dying from other health problems rather than the prostate cancer, a ‘watchful wait’ approach is often adopted. The doctor will monitor the tumor’s growth by constantly checking the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. If the cancer is not too serious, there will be no further treatment. Once the tumor grows, hormone therapy is usually given. Hormone therapy basically reduces the level of androgens. The androgen male hormone helps in the growth of prostate tumor, hence reducing the level will cause the tumor to shrink over a period of time.
Radiation therapy is another form of prostate cancer treatments. It is divided into two types – external beam and radioactive pellets. External beam is performed using an x-ray type machine, while a radioactive pellet is done by placing high doses of radiation right on the prostate’s tumor. Unfortunately, most patients that undergo radiation therapy end up with impotence within two years.
Radical prostatectomy is a surgery to remove the entire prostate gland as well as the nearby lymph nodes. A catheter is put in through the penis into the bladder to remove the urine from the body until the area is properly healed. This method offers the best treatment for prostate cancer, as long as the tumor is totally removed. The potential risks of this surgical procedure are impotence and incontinence.
The latest technique using robotic arms to alleviate the risk associated with surgery. During the surgery, the surgeon’s hands are connected to a glove-like device with sensors that allow him to use his hands naturally to operate robotic arms that perform the actual surgery. Tiny camera with magnification gives the surgeon a close-up view from the inside. The instruments used are more slender, which results in smaller holes in the body. The scene magnification and the design of the robot arms allow for more subtle movements than a surgeon could perform on his own. The result is that there is less scarring and faster healing.
Each of these prostate cancer treatments has cons and pros. All are most effective when the cancer is detected early. So it is important to go for regular health screening and to consult a doctor if you have any warning sign of prostate cancer.