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Prostate Cancer - Treatment Overview

Choosing treatment for prostate cancer can be confusing. Any treatment can cause serious side effects.

Your treatment decision will depend on:

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  • Your age.
  • Any serious health problems, including any urinary, bowel, or sexual function problems.
  • Your PSA level.
  • What kind of cancer cells you have. This is called the grade or Gleason score of your cancer. Most prostate cancer cells grow very slowly. But some types of cells grow quickly and spread to other areas of the body.
  • How far your cancer has spread. This is called the stage of your cancer.
  • The side effects of treatment.
  • Your personal feelings and concerns.

Treatment may be more successful if prostate cancer is found and treated early. Unlike many other cancers, prostate cancer is usually slow-growing. For most men, this slow growth means they have time to learn all they can before deciding whether to have treatment or which treatment to have.

Types of treatment

The main treatments for prostate cancer include:

  • Active surveillance. This is a treatment choice for any man who has low-risk cancer that has not spread (early stage). To learn more, see Other Treatment.
  • Surgery to remove the cancer by removing the prostate gland. This operation is called a prostatectomy.
  • Radiation treatments, which include external and internal radiation. These treatments have been improved with newer technologies that reduce side effects and other problems caused by radiation. To learn more, see Other Treatment.
  • Hormone therapy, also called androgen deprivation therapy or ADT. To learn more, see Medications.

A diagnosis of prostate cancer usually means that you will be seeing your doctor regularly for years to come. So it's a good idea to build a relationship that is based on full and honest information. Ask your doctor questions about your cancer so that you can make the best decision about treatment. Your doctor also may give you some advice on changes to make in your life to help your treatment succeed.

Additional information about prostate cancer is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/prostate.

Coping with cancer

A cancer diagnosis can change your life. You may feel like your world has turned upside down and you have lost all control. Talking with family, friends, or a counselor can really help. Ask your doctor about support groups. Or call the American Cancer Society (1-800-227-2345) or visit the website at www.cancer.org.

Follow-up care

After surgery or radiation

If you choose surgery or radiation to treat your prostate cancer, it will be important to have regular checkups. If your cancer comes back, this will help your doctor find it early.

If you choose active surveillance

If you decide on active surveillance, you will have regular checkups and tests, including prostate biopsies. It is possible that a curable cancer could spread and become incurable during a 6-month period, but this isn't common. If there is no change in your condition, you may continue active surveillance. If tests show that your cancer is growing, it may be time to start other treatment.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 12, 2012
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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