How to Combat Prostate Cancer: Available Treatment OptionsProstate cancer is different from most cancers in that it can only occur in men, as women don’t have prostate glands. Another element of prostate cancer that differentiates it from most other cancers is that keeping a watchful eye on the disease is one of the recommendations for dealing with it. Still, there are many other courses of treatment for prostate cancer that are similar to treatments for other types of cancers, including surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and radiation therapy.
Because more men die with prostate cancer rather than as a result of the disease itself, watchful waiting can be recommended for older men coping with other medical problems. Doctors often won’t recommend aggressive treatments until symptoms begin to appear or the cancer shows signs of rapid progression. Commonly, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests will be used to help monitor the development of the cancer.
Various forms of surgery are available for patients who are otherwise in good health. These range from pelvic lymphadenectomies to radical prostatectomies. In a radical prostatectomy, the surgeon removes the prostate gland, the seminal vesicles, and any surrounding lymph nodes. Alternatively, a less-invasive surgery called a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) can be performed. This procedure is sometimes recommended for men who cannot have radical prostatectomies because of age or illness. A TURP is performed by a lighted tube with a cutting tool inserted through the urethra.
This form of prostate cancer therapy can be performed externally or internally. When external beam radiation therapy is recommended, a large machine is used to focus radiation on the general area where the cancer is located. Internal beam radiation therapy, or bracytherapy, works by injecting radioactive material in or near the prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer has ties to the male hormones testosterone and androgen, and therefore several forms of treatment have developed which reduce the levels of those hormones. Though very helpful in battling prostate cancer, hormonal therapy is typically not seen as a cure for the disease. The course of treatment is, however, one of the most commonly utilized forms of treatment for metastatic prostate cancer. Various drugs are administered to effectively reduce male hormone levels, such as leuprolide, goserelin or buserelin.
A common treatment for cancer, chemotherapy is actually rarely used as a first-line course of treatment for prostate cancer. Chemotherapy-related drugs target and eliminate cells which are dividing at very high rates, which is associated with the attributes of most cancerous cells. However, prostate cancer generally develops very slowly, and chemotherapy may prove ineffective if the cells aren’t dividing quickly enough to differentiate them.
Other Treatment Options
Cryosurgery is another possible treatment option for prostate cancer. By using an instrument that freezes and destroys prostate cancer cells, cryosurgery can effectively reduce or eliminate the presence of cancer in the prostate. However, possible side effects of this may be impotence and bladder leakage.
Ultrasounds can also be recommended for treating prostate cancer. With this method of treatment, high energy sound waves are focused on tumors within the prostate in an attempt to destroy malignant cells. The treatments are administered through a probe inserted by way of the rectum.
Similarly, proton beam radiation therapy is another form of treatment for cancer of the prostate. Using a proton beam accelerator, beams of positively charged particles can be focused on the affected area and, in doing so; can effectively destroy existing cancer cells. Despite the potential for this type of treatment, the large accelerators are fairly expensive, complex and rare.