One out of every six American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. It’s the most common cancer in men. When detected early, the disease is easily curable. New advances in medical technology enable cancer patients to live active and productive lives after treatment – usually without troublesome side effects. Treatment options depend on the stage and aggressiveness of the cancer, along with the patient’s age and general health.
If you or a loved one is facing a prostate cancer diagnosis, Providence Regional Cancer Center offers a range of treatment options. And, our cancer experts will be with you every step of the way.
What is Prostate Cancer?
The prostate gland produces a fluid found in semen. It’s located below the bladder, in front of the rectum and it surrounds the urethra – the tube that empties urine from the bladder. Prostate cancer not only affects the prostate gland, it can spread to surrounding structures. While most men with prostate cancer have no symptoms, a doctor can find prostate cancer during a regular checkup, using a combination of a blood test called a PSA and a digital rectal exam (DRE).
Prostate Cancer Treatment Options
External beam radiation is delivered in an outpatient setting over the course of several weeks. Men typically receive 35-40 treatment sessions, generally five days a week. An enhancement of the conventional external beam radiation, called intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), uses advance planning technology and variable radiation doses to focus the radiation precisely, providing better protection of healthy tissues.
Brachytherapy radiation involves implanting radioactive seeds in the prostate. It requires only one treatment session in the operating room, compared to multiple outpatient visits required by external beam radiation therapy. Brachytherapy isn’t feasible for everyone, though. It depends on pathology, stage and size of the cancer.
There are two surgical treatments for prostate cancer: radical (open) prostatectomy or robotic prostatectomy. In surgery, the doctor removes the entire prostate gland and any lymph nodes the cancer may have spread to.
One of the most common treatments for prostate cancer is removal of the prostate gland, known as radical prostatectomy. Traditional radical prostatectomy requires an 8-10 inch incision on the lower abdomen and 2-3 days in the hospital.
Surgeons at Providence Regional Cancer Center can also remove the diseased prostate gland using the minimally-invasive da Vinci® robotic surgical system. For most patients, a robotic-assisted procedure offers a number of potential benefits, including:
- Smaller incisions, less blood loss and minimal scarring
- Shorter hospitalization
- Less pain
- Faster recovery
Other Treatment Options
Depending on the stage of your cancer, additional types of treatment may be available.
- Watchful waiting:
Men who have multiple medical problems, are of advanced age, or have very slow-growing disease may be candidates for watchful waiting. Watchful waiting requires close observation by your doctor. Ask your doctor if it’s a viable option for you.
- Hormone Therapy:
The growth of cancer cells in the prostate is stimulated by testosterone. In some cases, prostate cancer can be treated with agents that block the production of testosterone and the hormone’s action on cells. With hormone therapy, patients may experience symptoms such as hot flashes and weight gain.
- Cryotherapy freezes the prostate gland with a rectal probe and destroys cancerous prostate cells. However, cryotherapy has the potential to damage healthy cells, which can cause impotence.
- Chemotherapy has been used for prostate cancer that has metastasized. It’s under study in the treatment of other stages of prostate cancer.