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When a diagnosis of Prostate Cancer is made, a man has several treatment options to consider. The course of treatment that is chosen usually depends on the stage of the disease and, in some cases, the age of the patient. Today, there are many more options for treatment including:
Chemotherapy: This is probably the most well known and commonly used courses of treatment. Chemotherapy has been around for a long time and has been successful in treating many different cancers. Chemotherapy medicines use chemicals that basically kill the cancer cells or stop them from growing. But chemotherapy comes with many side effects that can have a serious impact on a man’s quality of life including nausea, exhaustion and sleep problems. Just remember, though, that no two people ever react to medications the same way so while one man may experience these side effects, it is possible that another may not or not so much that his quality of life has been greatly affected.
Radiation: Radiation therapy involves exposing and killing the cancer cells with the use of radiation. There are a few different types of radiation therapy that can be used. External beam radiation therapy relies on CT scans and MRIs so that the highest dose of radiation can attack the cells at their exact location. Brachytherapy uses tiny metal pellets that contain iodine or palladium and are then inserted into the prostate so that they can kill off the cancer cells over a period of time.
Cryosurgery: This more modern technique uses extreme cold to destroy abnormal or diseased tissue. Such extreme cold forms ice crystals inside the cells and then tears them apart. Cryosurgery can only be used when the cancer is localized and the tumor is larger than one centimeter. This form of treatment is considered minimally invasive.
Proton Therapy: This type of therapy uses beams of protons to irradiate diseased tissue. The charged particles that are emitted by the beams damage the cancer cell’s DNA which makes it much harder for them to reproduce. Cancer cells cannot easily repair damaged DNA making this type of therapy effective for treating Prostate Cancer.
Prostatectomy: In this procedure, either all or part of the prostate gland is surgically removed. There are many different options for this type of surgery including transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), open prostatectomy, laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, radical perineal prostatectomy, radical retropubic prostatectomy and transurethral plasmakinetic vaporization prostatectomy (TUPVP).
Hormonal Therapy: Also known as androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT), this type of treatment stops the production of testosterone that is often the main source of growth in Prostate Cancer cells. Unfortunately, hormonal therapy can have some unpleasant side effects including erectile dysfunction, loss of muscle mass, weight gain, anemia, hot flashes and decreased sexual desire.
Orchiectomy: This treatment option is a more permanent way to stop the production of testosterone by removing its source “the testicles. Although highly effective, many men choose not to opt for this course of treatment as it is irreversible.
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound: Unlike cryotherapy, high intensity focused ultrasound uses extreme heat to kill off cancer cells through a probe that is inserted through the rectum to the targeted area. This technique is still in the experimental stages in the United States, but has found significant success in Europe.
Biologic Therapy: In this course of treatment, the patient’s own immune system is used to fight the cancer. Substances that are made by the body are used to build the body’s defense system against the cancer.
Watchful Waiting: Though it may not sound like much, sometimes the best course of treatment (depending on the patient and severity of the disease) is none at all. Particularly in older men with other health problems, this course of treatment is used to monitor symptoms for any changes.
In choosing a course of treatment, many men look at the side effects that go with the treatment. In many cases, the side effects of treatment can be more severe than the disease it is trying to fight. A doctor will always advise the man on the best course of treatment for his individual situation.