The treatment for prostate cancer is dependent on the stage of the cancer and the individual. There is usually more than one ‘good’ option, so choice often comes down to patient preference. It is important that you consider the full range of options, including the no treatment option.
Talk with your urologist and your radiation oncologist to help you weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of different treatment options and possible side effects like incontinence and erectile dysfunction, availability and cost to help you make an informed decision about the best treatment for you.
Some of the treatment options include:
- Monitoring – either by active surveillance or by watchful waiting, these options are usually available to men who either have very slow growing prostate cancer, who don’t present with any symptoms, or for older men, where the cancer is unlikely to impact significantly on their quality of life, or lifespan. 1
- PSA Blood Test – both active surveillance and watchful waiting will require regular PSA blood tests (usually every 3-6 months). A PSA test is a blood test which measures a prostate specific antigen in the blood.1
- Digital Rectal Exam – active surveillance will also require a rectal exam every 6 months to monitor any changes in the prostate.1
- MRI scans – take a picture of the body using magnetic fields and radio waves, these scans are usually required every year under active surveillance.
- Radiation Therapy – this type of treatment is often used in men with early prostate cancer that hasn’t spread, although it can also be used in combination with other treatments, or if the cancer has returned. 3
There are two main types of radiation therapy treatments used for prostate cancer:
- External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) which uses one or more beams to deliver high energy x-rays from outside the body to the cancerous area. Treatment is usually given over 4–8 weeks; each treatment is about 15 minutes.
- Seed brachytherapy (the insertion of radioactive seeds injected into the prostate that destroy the cancer cells).
You can learn more about radiation therapy and the specific techniques used for prostate cancer here
- Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT) – is a type of therapy used to reduce the amount of testosterone in the body.1
- This type of therapy can be used before, during and after other treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.1
- ADT can be given as a tablet or as an injection.3
- Chemotherapy – uses drugs that destroy cancer cells (and healthy cells too). This type of treatment is usually offered to men where their prostate cancer has spread to other areas of their body. Because chemotherapy destroys some healthy cells as well, there can be side effects such as; hair loss, nausea and vomiting, mouth sores and fatigue. 2
- Surgery – this treatment procedure usually involves the removal of the whole prostate (radical prostatectomy), in an attempt to cure the patient of prostate cancer.