A great deal of information goes into deciding the best treatment option for your prostate cancer. Your urologist or radiation oncologist will make a recommendation; however, learning as much as possible about the types of treatment and other considerations should help you make a decision.
There are many treatment options to choose from, so it’s important that you know them all and what the possible outcomes may look like.
One of the first areas that your oncologist will look at when recommending a treatment plan is your prostate cancer risk group. Basically, your cancer is classified into one of the following groups based on factors such as Gleason Score, PSA levels, and stage.
Low-Risk: Prostate cancer is unlikely to grow or spread for many years. PSA level is less than 10 ng/ml. Gleason Score of 6 or lower. Tumor stage T1 or T2a.
Medium-Risk: Prostate cancer is unlikely to grow or spread for a few years. PSA levels 10-20 ng/ml. Gleason Score 7. Tumor stage T2.
High-Risk: Prostate cancer may grow or spread in a few years. PSA levels more than 20 ng/ml. Gleason Score of 8 or higher. Tumor stage T2c.
Health: Heart problems, diabetes, or other significant health problems may influence what type of treatment options are available to you. Previous surgeries on your prostate may also determine which treatment options will be most effective.
Age: Your age may determine the benefits or risks of each type of treatment.
Available care: It’s important to know what type of care is available to you and which specialists are in your area.
Treatment side effects: Some prostate cancer treatment options have a greater likelihood of side effects than others. The chances of urinary incontinence and sexual function should be researched for each treatment considered.
Personal feelings: As you weigh the different treatment options, you may realize that your personal feelings and beliefs largely shape your decision moving forward. It’s important to ask yourself the question of how you feel about the benefits and risks of each treatment option.
Partner or spouse: Ultimately, you will have to decide your treatment plan. However, talking with your spouse or partner may help you come to a conclusion about which option is best for you and your family.
Medical advice: Your cancer treatment team will provide suggestions and other information to help you come to a decision about your treatment plan.
Prostate cancer treatment options are always improving, but there are a few common options that patients commonly choose.
Watchful waiting, also referred to as active surveillance, is an option for men who have early-stage prostate cancer and who generally fall into the low-risk category. However, this may also depend on your age and general health.
No treatments are given during active surveillance, but you’re monitored to see if the cancer grows or changes over time. You will attend frequent doctor’s visits and have regular screenings, and you may choose to start a treatment at any time.
Who is a Good Candidate?
While active surveillance is a good option for most men in the low-risk category, it’s especially good for patients over the age of 70 with other medical issues that may make it harder to undergo treatment. It’s also important that you can accept that there is cancer in your body, which sometimes proves to be too stressful for some patients.
If you feel you won’t be diligent about going to all of your scheduled appointments so that changes in your cancer are detected as soon as possible, this may not be the right choice for you.
Radiation therapy is another option for patients to treat their prostate cancer. This approach is frequently used for patients who fall into the medium-risk category. However, radiation therapy is often used on cancer that falls into any of the three categories.
There are both internal (inside of the body) and external (outside of the body) radiation treatment options available.
Radiation may be a treatment option for a man of any age who has early-stage prostate cancer. It could also be a beneficial treatment for patients who aren’t in good enough health for surgery. It is also used in conjunction with high-risk cancer that can’t be treated with only surgery.
ProstRcision is a revolutionary treatment option that uses pinpointed radiation seeds implants and conformal beam irradiation (both internal and external radiation therapy). This approach helps to specifically target only the cancer and surrounding tissue to make sure that the cancer is destroyed and does not spread. ProstRcision is the most successful proven method for treating prostate cancer. However, it is important to work with your doctor to determine if you are a candidate for ProstRcision.
The procedure to insert the radioactive seeds is completed on an outpatient basis in as little as 45 minutes. Patients have virtually no side effects and can continue their regular activities following treatment. Then, visits to the cancer center for the external radiation therapy treatments are short and painless, completed over the course of several weeks.
Prostatectomy, prostate removal surgery, may be a first option for patients in a high-risk category. It can be used alone or with radiation therapy either before or after surgery. Surgery candidates should be in relatively good health. Any type of surgery requires a recovery time, and there could be side effects such as bleeding, urinary tract infection, erectile dysfunction, and other side effects that can vary from person to person.
Who is a good candidate for prostatectomy? Surgery may be a good option for patients who are younger than 70 years old and in generally good health. If you want to have the cancer removed surgically, you should also be willing to accept the potential for serious side effects, and you may also need radiation treatment to remove all of the cancer.
Choosing your path for prostate cancer treatment can be a difficult decision. However, it’s not one that you have to make on your own. Discuss your options with your physicians and your family after learning about which options are best for you and your health.
Make an informed prostate cancer treatment decision. Our 40-page, comprehensive guidebook provides answers to our most frequently asked questions from men diagnosed with prostate cancer, and compares various treatment methods, cure rates and side effects. Our team can also connect you with one of our oncologists at no cost.