Common Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer
Common Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer
One of the scariest things to ever hear in your lifetime is that you have cancer. With the technology having advanced a good amount in the past several years, it means this bad news isn’t an immediate death sentence. While there is no proven way to prevent cancer from forming in any single body, there are numerous treatment options that can be used to fight most cancers, including and especially prostate cancer.
According to an NBC News report, between 2003 and 2007, prostate cancer claimed the fifth most lives of any cancers in the United States, trailing only lung and bronchial, colon and rectal, breast, and pancreatic cancers. In fact, only lung and bronchial cancer claim more lives in men than prostate cancer. One of the reasons why prostate cancer is so dangerous is that there are two different types. The Mayo Clinic says that one type stays on the actual gland and thus can be removed with surgery while the other type is aggressive and spreads throughout your body quickly.
If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, there are different treatment options to choose from.
No Treatment, At Least not at First
If you are lucky enough to have your doctor catch the cancer in its early stages, then your first treatment might be to wait. If they see something, instead of acting quickly, your doctor may suggest checking up on your often. They will want to see you for follow-ups, rectal exams, blood tests, rectal exams, and the occasional biopsies.
There are several reasons why you would wait to jump into a serious treatment when diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer. The first reason could be that you are already at an older age where surgery or radiation could be more dangerous than the cancer. Another reason you might wait is your cancer isn’t showing any symptoms.
On the other side of this, waiting could also allow an aggressive form of prostate cancer to spread quickly and become more difficult to fight.
There are two different types of radiation therapies your doctor may suggest to you. Either method you use, radiation therapy kills cancer cells by using high-powered energy.
- External beam radiation: This form of radiation therapy comes from outside the body. With this method, a machine will move around your body with energy beams aimed at your cancer. You will be on a table, so it shouldn’t be too uncomfortable watching the machine move around your body. This treatment is usually done five times a week for many weeks.
- Brachytherapy: This treatment method for prostate cancer comes from inside your body. Rice-sized seeds that are radioactive will be placed in your prostate tissues. Over the course of an extended period, these seeds will let out low doses of radiation. Once the seeds finish giving out radiation, they do not need to be removed.
There are common side effects from using either form of radiation treatment. It can become painful you for you urinate, or you may feel the need to urinate more often. You may also feel pain when you are releasing your stool. In some cases, erectile dysfunction can occur and in others, there is a small chance that bladder or rectal cancer could develop because of the radiation.
The cells that help prostate cancer grow and spread use testosterone. One way to fight prostate cancer is by getting your body to quit producing this hormone. Completing this method of treatment could either rid your body of the cancer cells or make them grow at a slower rate. There are different hormonal treatments you can get depending on what you need.
- Medication: There is medication that will stop your body from producing any testosterone and medicine that will keep the testosterone from reaching the cancer cells. It depends on how advanced your prostate cancer is and what the immediate fear of loss of life is.
- Surgery to remove testicles: If you have your testicles removed, it will reduce the amount of testosterone you have in your body. This surgery, called orchiectomy, will reduce the level of testosterone in your body quicker than other hormonal therapy prescription drugs.
Hormone therapy can be used on men with advanced staged prostate cancer in an attempt keep the tumors from growing too quickly and to shrink the cancer. If you are in the early stages of the cancer, this method of treatment can be used to shrink the tumors inside your body before moving onto radiation treatment.
Some common side effects of hormone treatment include hot flashes, loss bone mass, weight gain, reduced sex drive, and erectile dysfunction. This method of treatment can also increase the chances that you develop heart disease or even have a heart attack.
There are four types of surgeries that can be performed in an attempt to remove all the cancerous cells from your body. Depending on your life situation, one surgery option may be better for you, but your doctor should discuss them all with you beforehand. In the procedure, your surgeon, or robot, will remove the prostate gland, surrounding tissues, and some lymph nodes from your body. If you decide to have surgery to remove your cancer cells, among the side effects could be erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
Freezing of Prostate Tissue
This option might not be completely ready for use on every man. Initial testing to freeze the cancerous tissues and then reheat them in an attempt to kill the cancer cells were determined to be too dangerous and carried too many unnecessary complications. Those who have attempted radiation therapy without any success might consider this a valid option of treatment.
This is the most known treatment method for most cancers. Chemotherapy will kill cancer cells and other rapidly growing cells within your body with drugs. These drugs are inserted into your body through a vein in your arm or with a pill. In some cases, you will use both methods for treatment. If your prostate cancer has spread to other areas of the body, this may be your best choice at fighting the cancer.