Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

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prostate cancer treatment

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer that occurs in men. In 2018 alone, there were about 1.3 million new cases worldwide, and about one in every nine men is diagnosed with this disease in their lifetime. The good news is, doctors now have different prostate cancer treatment options available for this condition. These include:

1 Surgery

This is usually an option if the cancer cells have not spread yet. And there are three surgery procedures or methods to choose from.

First is the radical prostatectomy where the doctor removes the entire prostate gland and some tissues around it. In some cases, lymph nodes are also removed.

The second procedure is called open radical prostatectomy. In this method, the surgeon will have to make an incision in the lower abdomen of the patient to access the prostate. The organ may also be removed through the perineum, but it’s quite uncommon. 

The third procedure is the laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. Like in open radical prostatectomy, small incisions are made in the abdomen during the process. The doctor then inserts surgical robot arms, which they use to control the cameras and surgical instruments.

One of the reasons patients and medical practitioners prefer surgery is its success rate. It is very high once all the cancer cells get removed. It also helps the doctor determine the exact size and state of the tumor, and this helps prevent it from recurring. 

2 Hormone Therapy

Also known as androgen deprivation therapy or ADT, hormone therapy is effective at controlling prostate cancer growth. The treatment does this by either blocking the testosterone from acting on the cancer cells or stopping it from being produced.     

Patients who start hormone therapy usually have timed doctor visits for injections that help lower testosterone levels. These appointments also include lab checkups for liver and kidney function tests.

3 Chemotherapy

To prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, the oncologist may have to perform either taxane or platinum chemotherapy. The former is done if the cancer cells have spread and continue to progress despite hormone therapy. Docetaxel (Taxotere®) and cabazitaxel (Jevtana®) are two taxane chemotherapy agents approved for the treatment.

Meanwhile, platinum chemotherapy is sometimes used for those who have exhausted all prostate cancer treatment options but have not seen an improvement in their condition. It’s also used occasionally for people with rare subtypes of prostate cancer. The FDA approval of the treatment is still in the works, but it is already proven to help with other types of cancer.

According to some studies, platinum chemotherapy is safe for prostate cancer. It also has higher response rates compared to non-platinum chemotherapy. Carboplatin (Paraplatin®) and cisplatin (Platinol®) are the two platinum-based chemotherapy agents used for the treatment. 

4 Radiation Therapy

Like surgery, radiation therapy is effective at eliminating locally advanced prostate cancer. It uses photons to kill cancer cells and sometimes, oncologists use it after surgery to get rid of any malignant ones left behind.  

There are two types of this prostate cancer treatment. External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) or simply External is the most common. It uses computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to locate the tumor cells. X-rays are targeted to those areas.

Another type of radiation therapy is the internal or brachytherapy. What happens during the procedure is while the patient is asleep under anesthesia, catheters (high dose rate) or radioactive seeds (low dose rate) are inserted directly into the prostate to kill the cancer cells. 

5 Proton Therapy

Also known as proton beam therapy, this procedure is a non-invasive and low-risk option. It is a relatively new prostate cancer treatment and one of the most advanced forms of radiation therapy in the world. It uses proton particles to accurately target cancer cells and destroy them without causing damage to the healthy tissues surrounding the prostate.

Many people prefer proton therapy treatment because it poses minimal risk of impotency and it has a lower risk of side effects as compared to conventional treatments. These negative bodily reactions include fatigue, headaches, and eating and digestion problems.

It also has little to no impact on the patient’s energy level and does not require recovery time. The person can go back to his or her daily routine right after the session. The patient may just feel sore and tired after their appointment, which is normal for radiation therapies.

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