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Prostate Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview

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Impotence and leakage of urine from the bladder or stool from the rectum may occur in men treated with surgery. In some cases, doctors can use a technique known as nerve-sparing surgery. This type of surgery may save the nerves that control erection. However, men with large tumors or tumors that are very close to the nerves may not be able to have this surgery.

The penis may be 1 to 2 centimeters shorter after a radical prostatectomy. The exact reason for this is not known.

Inguinal hernia is bulging of fat or part of the small intestine through weak muscles into the groin. Inguinal hernia may occur more often in men treated with radical prostatectomy than in men who have some other types of prostate surgery, radiation therapy, or prostate biopsy alone. It is most likely to occur within the first 2 years after radical prostatectomy.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

There is an increased risk of bladder cancer and/or rectal cancer in men treated with radiation therapy.

Impotence and urinary problems may occur in men treated with radiation therapy.

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that removes hormones or blocks their action and stops cancer cells from growing. Hormones are substances made by glands in the body and circulated in the bloodstream. In prostate cancer, male sex hormones can cause prostate cancer to grow. Drugs, surgery, or other hormones are used to reduce the amount of male hormones or block them from working.

Hormone therapy used in the treatment of prostate cancer may include the following:

  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists can prevent the testicles from making testosterone. Examples are leuprolide, goserelin, and buserelin.
  • Antiandrogens can block the action of androgens (hormones that promote male sex characteristics). Examples are enzalutamide, flutamide, and nilutamide.
  • Drugs that can prevent the adrenal glands from making androgens include ketoconazole and aminoglutethimide.
  • Orchiectomy is a surgical procedure to remove one or both testicles, the main source of male hormones, to decrease the amount of hormone being made.
  • Estrogens (hormones that promote female sex characteristics) can prevent the testicles from making testosterone. However, estrogens are seldom used today in the treatment of prostate cancer because of the risk of serious side effects.
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