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    Prostate Cancer - Topic Overview

    Your treatment will depend on what kind of cancer cells you have, how far they have spread, your age and general health, and your preferences.

    You and your doctor may decide to treat your cancer with surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, or a combination. Or if you have cancer that is low-risk and hasn't spread (early stage), you may be able to wait and watch with active surveillance to see what happens. During active surveillance, you will have regular checkups with your doctor to see if your cancer has changed.

    Choosing treatment for prostate cancer can be confusing. Talk with your doctor to choose the treatment that's best for you.

    Your age and overall health will make a difference in how treatment may affect your quality of life. Any health problems you have before you are treated, especially urinary, bowel, or sexual function problems, will affect how you recover.

    Both surgery and radiation can cause urinary incontinence (leaking urine) or impotence (not being able to have an erection). The level of urinary incontinence and how long it lasts and the quality of the erections a man has after treatment will depend on whether the cancer has spread. These also depend on what treatment is used.

    Nerves that help a man have an erection are right next to the prostate. Surgery to remove the cancer may damage these nerves. Many times a special form of surgery, called nerve-sparing surgery, can preserve the nerves. But if the cancer has spread to the nerves, they may have to be removed during surgery.

    These same nerves can also be damaged by the X-rays that are used in radiation therapy.

    Medicines and mechanical aids may help men who are impotent because of treatment. Some men recover part or most of their ability to have an erection several months or even years after surgery.

    Learning about prostate cancer:

    Being diagnosed:

    Getting treatment:

    Ongoing concerns:

    Living with prostate cancer:

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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