Skip to content

'You've Got Prostate Cancer'

An American man has a 1 in 5 lifetime chance of hearing those 4 words. What he will do about them is a decision that will affect the rest of his life.
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Feature

Most men who learn they have prostate cancer will be told they have a relatively early stage of the disease. This article is for them. Not because later-stage disease is untreatable, but because men with early prostate cancer must choose among a wide range of different treatment options.

Having options is a good thing, but having to choose is hard. Each choice has its advantages -- and its disadvantages. And once most of these choices are made, there's no going back. Even if other options still remain, they will be affected by the original decision.

Recommended Related to Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer: The Basics

The prostate is a muscular, walnut-sized gland that surrounds part of the urethra, the tube that transports urine and sperm out of the body. A gland is a group of cells that secretes chemicals that act on or control the activity of other cells or organs. The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. Its main job is to make seminal fluid, the milky substance that transports sperm. Sperm is produced in the testicles, which also make the male hormone testosterone. Testosterone stimulates the...

Read the Prostate Cancer: The Basics article > >

"Of the men today diagnosed with prostate cancer, 90% have localized cancer," says Peter Scardino, MD, chair of the urology department at New York's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. "The dilemma they face is, 'What shall I do about this? Should I treat it at all, or is the word cancer scaring me into taking potentially dangerous treatments? It is an agonizing decision."

The Options

"You have to be aware of the risks -- and you have to make decisions," says Thomas Keane, MD, associate professor of urology at Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta. "The only way you can do that is to get the knowledge in the first place. If you are the kind of patient that doesn't do well with that, you need to sit down and spend a lot of time with your doctor."

To choose among treatment options, a man must know how aggressive the cancer seems to be and if the tumor is localized or if it has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

A man with localized prostate cancer has four main treatment options:

Watchful Waiting

Prostate cancer usually takes a long time to go from localized cancer to painful, metastatic disease. For a man in his late 70s or 80s with a non-aggressive tumor, it might be a good idea to do nothing at all except keep track of how the disease is progressing, and to deal with symptoms when and if they arise. This is called "watchful waiting." The idea is to wait until the cancer is serious enough to justify the risks of treatment.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Today on WebMD

man with doctor
Symptoms, risks, treatments
man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore
 
prostate cancer cells
What does this diagnosis mean?
doctor and male patient
Is it worth it?
 
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
FEATURE
 
Prostate Enlarged
VIDEO
Picture Of The Prostate
ANATOMY
 
Prostate Cancer Quiz
QUIZ
screening tests for men
SLIDESHOW
 
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
VIDEO
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW