The options for treatment of prostate cancer include radiation, hormones, and surgical procedures to slow down or reduce cancer men.
Prostate cancer treatments will depend on many different factors. Physicians will look at how fast the cancer is growing, if it has spread, the overall health and age of the male. Each treatment type will have different side effects, which must be considered before any treatments are started.
Not all men need immediate treatment of prostate cancer. Men with early signs of prostate cancer may only need to be observed. Regular rectal exams, follow-up blood tests and sometimes biopsies need to be done, in order to keep track of the growth pattern of the cancer. This active watching for the spreading of the cancer may lead to other treatments in time. Sometimes no treatment of prostate cancer is necessary at all.
If the tests that the physician has run for the prostate cancer shows progression, then such treatments like radiation or surgery would be discussed with the patient. Radiation for prostate cancer can be given in one of two different ways. The external beam of radiation comes from outside the body. The patient would lie on a table and the radiation machine would move around the body, giving off high-energy beams directed at the prostate cancer. The patient would need this type of radiation for several weeks, going for visits five days a week. Physicians are looking into using protons, instead of X-rays, for prostate cancer treatments, to reduce the risk of side effects.
Radiation can also be placed inside the patient’s body. Physicians can place radioactive seeds, the size of rice, in the patient’s prostate tissue. This is called Brachytherapy, and it is done by using ultrasound images that will guide a needle to implant the radioactive seeds in the prostate. The seeds will give off radiation for a certain amount of time and then stop. The seeds will not have to be removed.
Radiation therapy has side effects that may include frequent urination, painful urination, and at times urgent urination. Other side effects may include pain when passing stools, and loose stools. Erectile dysfunction may also occur after having radiation treatments.
Hormone therapy will slow the growth of the tumors and shrink the cancer, in advance cases. This type of therapy may also be used to help shrink tumors before radiation is used. Hormone therapy medications will stop the male body from producing testosterone. The drugs prevent messages from getting through to the testicles to produce testosterone. Other drugs will prevent the testosterone from reaching the cancer cells. Cancer relies on testosterone in order to survive and spread.