The treatment of prostate cancer varies from case to case and a multi-disciplinary team advises each patient. The treatment advised will depend on many factors, including the size and stage of the cancer, whether it has spread to other areas of the body and your general health. The best prostate cancer treatment will be different for each individual but in many cases, no treatment is necessary, with the symptoms being carefully monitored instead. This is usually chosen because prostate cancer is often non-aggressive and there are prostate cancer treatment side effects to consider. Treatment for prostate cancer includes:
Watchful waiting is often recommended for older men when it’s unlikely that prostate cancer will affect their natural lifespan. It means waiting to see if any symptoms of the cancer developing occur.
The aim of active surveillance aims to avoid unnecessary treatment of harmless cancers. It’s estimated that up to two-thirds of men with prostate cancer do not need treatment. Active surveillance means keeping a close eye on the cancer, for instance regularly having PSA blood tests to see if levels continue to rise.
A radical prostatectomy is a surgery to remove the prostate gland. It is used to cure localised prostate cancer and locally-advanced prostate cancer. However, it does have potential side effects and risks, including being fatal in a small number of cases, and for around a third of men, it doesn’t remove all the cancerous cells, meaning the cancer can return after the operation.
Radiotherapy for prostate cancer is used to kill the cancerous cells and can be used to slow the progression of the disease or relieve symptoms. It is often used in conjunction with hormone therapy but can cause both short and long-term side effects, including the inability to obtain an erection and urinary incontinence.
Brachytherapy is a form of prostate cancer where it is delivered inside the prostate gland. It can deliver a high dose of radiation while minimising the risk to other, healthy tissue. Prostate cancer brachytherapy still carries the risk of sexual dysfunction and urinary problems.
Hormone therapy can be used as prostate cancer treatment and is often used with radiotherapy. It can improve the chances of success of radiotherapy and reduce the risk of the cancer returning.
For prostate cancer, chemotherapy is usually only used if the disease has spread to other parts of the body or is not responding to other treatment options.
Other treatment options are also available, including cryotherapy, trans-urethral resection of the prostate and high intensity focused ultrasound.