Prostate cancer will be found in almost 250,000 American men and 25,000 Canadian men in 2012. Next year, the same amount will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and again the year after that. In fact, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men in Canada and the U.S. If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, you will need to learn more about all of the options available to you.
If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you’re going to want to know what treatment options are available based on your diagnosis. You’ll also want to know the risks associated with each treatment and the benefits of choosing one treatment over another.
Your doctor will assess your condition by studying your test results. Determining how far the cancer has progressed is critical in determining the best treatment options for you. Early detection is crucial, since early stages (T-1) have a 90% cure rate and many more options. For stage T-4 (cancer has spread outside the prostate and affects other organs and parts of the body) there are very few options and a very low chance of cure. Other factors, such as age, health and personal preferences, must also be taken into account.
There are a few surgical treatment options, each of which is determined by how advanced your cancer is.
A prostatectomy can be done where your prostate can be removed. This is for patients whose cancer is confined to the prostate gland.
A pelvic lymph node dissection can be performed where the lymph nodes are removed. This is typically recommended for intermediate stage prostate cancer patients.
For men whose cancer has progressed to an advanced state, you may be recommended for a transurethral resection. This will relieve symptoms of urinary obstruction caused by an enlarged prostate.
While each of these procedures has merit, the side effects can be radical. Impotence and urinary incontinence are common in patients undergoing surgery.
Radiotherapy, whether it is done externally through a focused radiation beam or internally through implanted radioactive seeds, is effective in treating patients with advanced prostate cancer. Again, impotence can result as well as inflammation of the bladder and rectum.
Chemotherapy involves introducing chemicals toxic to the cancerous cells in the body. It is frequently used when hormonal therapy is ineffective. It can relieve pain, control the growth of a tumor or be used after surgery to destroy any remaining cells.
Hormonal therapy is used to slow the growth of a tumor by changing your hormone levels or blocking their receptors in the body. It is a commonly recommended treatment for advanced cases of prostate cancer.
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Treatment
Research has found that an alternative form of treating prostate cancer is HIFU, or High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. Cancer cells are heated to 40°C or more by a computer controlled probe. HIFU is most frequently used to treat stages T-1 and T-2, but research is moving forward on treating more advanced cases.