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A diagnosis of prostate cancer immediately conjures up thoughts of invasive surgery and serious radiation therapy. This is understandable as these remain the standard treatments for this type of cancer. However, they may not be the best treatment for you and your particular kind of cancer. There are other less popular treatments that may be much more beneficial for you.
It’s worth knowing exactly what these are so that you can explore all of the options open to you. Let’s start with cryotherapy. Also known as cryosurgery or cryoablation, this has been around for a long time but it’s only recently moved into mainstream medicine.
With this approach, probes are inserted into the prostate through the perineum (the space between the scrotum and the anus) and argon gas or liquid nitrogen is delivered to the prostate. This results in freezing the prostate and any cancerous tumors or cells – killing them upon impact.
While this procedure sounds simple and effective, there are risks associated with it. Improvements are ongoing and in recent years, significant steps have been taken to avoid freezing and causing damage to nearby body parts. However, despite such progress, the rates of erectile and urinary dysfunction that occur as a result of this treatment remain high.
If you’ve developed a certain type of prostate cancer, cryotherapy may be worth the risk. It has been used as a secondary local therapy in men who have already undergone radiation therapy as an initial treatment for early-state prostate cancer. This tends to work best in men in which the disease remains confined.
Another option in the treatment of prostate cancer is high-intensity-focused ultrasound or HIFU. This works in exactly the opposite way to cryotherapy. Instead of freezing the cells, HIFU heats them to death. A probe is inserted into the rectum, from which very high-intensity ultrasound waves are delivered to the target area.
This technique is still in its experimental stages, particularly in the United States. It’s already being used in Europe and the success rates are proving to be significant.
The other alternative to radiation and surgery is of course primary hormone therapy. Also known as androgen-deprivation therapy or ADT, this is designed to stop testosterone from being released or to prevent the hormone from acting upon the prostate cells.
Testosterone has been proven to be the fuel that drives the growth of most prostate cancer cells. Therefore, if its production can be decreased or if it can be prevented from acting upon the cells, the cancer will be unable to spread.
While it is usually used in conjunction with other treatments, more and more men are now opting to use hormone therapy as a stand-alone treatment for localized prostate cancer. This is particularly true of men who have practiced active surveillance for as long as possible and now need to move on to a stronger form of treatment. Their bodies may not be ready for invasive therapies and hormone therapy might slow the growth of the cancer until they are ready to take the next step.
No matter which of these treatments or others you decide to opt for, you should continue to pay close attention to your overall state of health. Reduce or eliminate your consumption of caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar and starch, hydrogenated fats and artificial preservatives and sweeteners. Replace them with whole foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and modest amounts of animal proteins including fish, eggs and chicken.
Find out about vitamin and mineral supplements. Exercise more often. In general, keep your body as fit as you possibly can. After all, it’s currently fighting a battle and it will need every weapon in its arsenal if it is to win.
One final word of caution: before embarking on any changes – whether in your diet or in your daily routine – be sure to discuss them with your doctor. This is a battle you and your doctors are fighting together.