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There are a number of different treatment options for prostate cancer and the best treatment can be determined by examining several different factors such as age, general state of health, and the stage of the cancer. Depending on the exact situation of the patient and the cancer, a treatment form can be decided on by the doctor and the patient together.
If the tumor can be removed by surgery, there are several options to consider. The radical prostatectomy procedure removes the entire prostate gland. This is the usual choice for patients when the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate gland. Sometimes, a man is too old or infirm to undergo a radical prostatectomy, but a version of this surgery called a transurethral resection can be used. It can remove a tumor which is blocking the urinary tract. There is also a new procedure called cryosurgery which freezes the tumor, thereby killing it, instead of removing it.
Radiation can be used to treat cancer in three ways. Sometimes it is used before surgery to shrink the cancer tumor; sometimes it is used after surgery to kill cancer cells that were too small to be detected and removed during surgery; and sometimes it is used to relieve symptoms when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
There are two different types of radiation therapy: external beam therapy and brachytherapy. Both external and internal radiation therapies operate on the principle that cancer cells can be killed by high doses of radiation. External beam radiation uses a machine known as a linear accelerator to beam x-rays at the target areas. The x-rays are painless and are the same as a chest x-ray, or a dental x-ray, but they last for several minutes instead of several seconds. This treatment does not require hospitalization and can be performed at a clinic. This radiation therapy is usually given 5 days per week over a period of about eight to ten weeks. Brachytherapy used internally instead of externally. Tiny radioactive pellets are inserted into the prostate with little catheters and deliver the radiation directly to the tumor. They stay in the prostate for months as their radiation levels gradually decrease until they are harmless.
Another treatment used to on prostate cancer is hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is used in cases where the patient’s health will not allow any other form of treatment, or if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland, or for those whose cancer has returned after being in remission. There are several different forms of hormone therapy, but they all follow the same principle. Because the male hormone testosterone causes prostate cancer to grow, eliminating those hormones can stop or slow down that growth.
The best way to reduce the level of hormones in a man’s body by removing the testicles. This is done by a surgery called orchiectomy, where the testicles are removed, but the scrotum and penis are left intact. Silicon sacks can be used to replace the removed tissue and the scrotum will appear to be the same.
There are also certain drugs which lower the level of hormones in a man’s body. Some of these drugs are taken in pill form, some are injected and some are inserted under the skin in timed release implants.
The last form of treatment for prostate cancer is chemotherapy. This is only used when the other forms of treatment cannot be used because the cancer has spread too far to be operated on, and other therapies have proved to be ineffective. Chemotherapy involves the injection of chemicals which are strong enough to stop the growth of the cancer, or slow it down. Unfortunately, chemotherapy can also harm healthy cells, and cause very unpleasant side effects, but these side effects are temporary and will go away when the chemotherapy is stopped.