Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Prostate Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview for Prostate Cancer

Local treatment modalities are associated with prolonged disease-free survival for many patients with localized prostate cancer but are rarely curative in patients with locally extensive tumors. Because of clinical understaging using current diagnostic techniques, even when the cancer appears clinically localized to the prostate gland, some patients develop disseminated tumors after local therapy with surgery or radiation. Metastatic prostate cancer is currently not curable.

Treatment options for each stage of prostate cancer are presented in Table 9.

Table 9. Treatment Options by Stage for Prostate Cancer

Stage (TNM Staging Criteria)Standard Treatment Options
TURP = transurethral resection of the prostate.
Stage I Prostate CancerWatchful waiting or active surveillance
Radical prostatectomy
External-beam radiation therapy (EBRT)
Interstitial implantation of radioisotopes
Stage II Prostate CancerWatchful waiting or active surveillance
Radical prostatectomy
External-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) with or without hormonal therapy
Interstitial implantation of radioisotopes
Stage III Prostate CancerExternal-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) with or without hormonal therapy
Hormonal manipulations (orchiectomy or luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone [LH-RH] agonist)
Radical prostatectomy with or without EBRT
Watchful waiting or active surveillance
Stage IV Prostate CancerHormonal manipulations
External-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) with or without hormonal therapy
Palliative radiation therapy
Palliative surgery with transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)
Watchful waiting or active surveillance
Recurrent Prostate CancerChemotherapy for hormonal management of prostate cancer

Watchful Waiting or Active Surveillance

Asymptomatic patients of advanced age or with concomitant illness may warrant consideration of careful observation without immediate active treatment.[1,2] Watch and wait, observation, expectant management, and active surveillance are terms indicating a strategy that does not employ immediate therapy with curative intent.

Watchful waiting and active surveillance are the most commonly used terms, and the literature does not always clearly distinguish them, making the interpretation of results difficult. The general concept of watchful waiting is patient follow-up with the application of palliative care as needed to alleviate symptoms of tumor progression. There is no planned attempt at curative therapy at any point in follow-up. For example, TURP or hormonal therapy may be used to alleviate tumor-related urethral obstruction should there be local tumor growth; hormonal therapy or bone radiation might be used to alleviate pain from metastases. Radical prostatectomy has been compared with watchful waiting or active surveillance in men with early-stage disease (i.e., clinical stages T1b, T1c, or T2).[3] (Refer to the Radical Prostatectomy section in the Treatment Option Overview for Prostate Cancer section of this summary.)

    Next Article:

    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
    15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
    Prostate Enlarged
    Picture Of The Prostate
    Prostate Cancer Quiz
    screening tests for men
    Prostate Cancer Symptoms
    Vitamin D