What are some treatments for prostate cancer?
Most of the common medical treatments have already been discussed by the previous respondents, so I will focus on complementary and alternative treatments.
Alternative treatments for prostate cancer can be broken down into five domains:
- Mind-Body-include meditation, yoga, biofeedback,and the belief that the mind can have a direct effect on the body.
- Biologically Based-these explore the use of diet, vitamins and herbs in the treatment of the condition.
- Manipulative Practices-include massage therapy and chiropractic care.
- Energy Medicines-includes Reiki and therapeutic touch which work with the body's energy fields.
- Whole Medical System-include the use of acupuncture and homeopathy to treat the cancer.
The previous therapies are usually used in conjunction with modern medical methods. These alternative methods are utilized to increase the patients quality of life not to cue the disease.
There are many different options available for men who suffer with prostate cancer. However, there are many factors to take into consideration when choosing treatment. The Prostate Cancer Foundation suggests that these things be taken into consideration when choosing treatment options:
Your decision-making process will likely include a combination of clinical and psychological factors, including:
- The need for therapy
- Your level of risk
- Your personal circumstance
- Your desire for a certain therapy based on risks, benefits, and your intuition
Treatment options include active surveillance, prostatectomy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. There are also emerging medical treatments such as experimental medications.
Depending on a number of factors (age of patient, stage of cancer, presence of other health issues) there are a number of treatments for prostate cancer:
- surgery - to remove lymph nodes, tissue or the prostate gland itself
- hormone therapy - to block more cancer cells from growing
Some treatments being tested in clinical trials include:
- cryosurgery - freezing and destroying prostate cells
- biologic therapy - uses the patient's immune system to fight the cancer
- high intensity focused ultrasound - uses high energy sound waves to destroy cancer cells
- proton beam radiation therapy - high energy radiation therapy that targets tumors with proton beams.
Some types of prostate cancer are treated by ablation therapy. This is when the prostate tissue is destroyed by hormones, drugs, chemicals, or electrocautery.
A prostatectomy is when the gland is surgically removed because of cancer. A radical prostatectomy is when the gland is surgically removed through an abdominal incision.
A transurethral prostatectomy or TURP is when the gland or tissues are removed through a resectoscope (endoscope).
Radiation therapy is also sometimes used either as a sole treatment or in conjunction with another procedure.
During my time shadowing a urologist I saw the following treatments commonly used:
- The most common was something called "watchful waiting" meaning that the patient would not receive a specified treatment, but come back more often to be monitored to see how the cancer was progressing. This was used for patients who caught their cancer early, were older and had other medical problems, and/or had an unagressive form.
- Radiation therapy is common in the form of "seeds" (small devices containing radioactive substances surgically implanted in the body where the cancer is located) or external radiation where the patient comes in to have a concentrated x-ray beam focused directly on the place their cancer is located.
- Surgery to remove the lymph nodes (pelvic lymphadenectomy) , prostate (radical prostatectomy), tissue from the prostate without removing the prostate itself (TURP)
- Hormone therapy can also be used to block the cancer from spreading.
Prostate cancer involves treatment like-