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Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

Treating Prostate Cancer

  • Many men with prostate cancer want to take an active part in making decisions about their care. It is natural to want to learn all you can about prostate cancer and your treatment choices. However, shock and stress after the diagnosis can make it hard to think of everything you want to ask your doctor. It often helps to make a list of questions before an appointment.

To help remember what the doctor says, you may take notes or ask whether you may use a tape recorder. You may also want to have a family member or friend with you when you talk to the doctor – to take part in the discussion, to take notes, or just to listen.

You do not need to ask all your questions at once. You will have other chances to ask your doctor or nurse to explain things that are not clear and to ask for more details.

Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, or you may ask for a referral. Specialists who treat prostate cancer include urologists, urologic oncologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists.

Getting a Second Opinion

Before starting treatment, you might want a second opinion about your diagnosis and treatment plan. Many insurance companies cover a second opinion if you or your doctor requests it. It may take some time and effort to gather medical records and arrange to see another doctor. Usually it is not a problem to take several weeks to get a second opinion. In most cases, the delay in starting treatment will not make treatment less effective. To make sure, you should discuss this delay with your doctor. Some men with prostate cancer need treatment right away.

Treatment Methods

Men with prostate cancer have many treatment options. The treatment that is best for one man may not be best for another.

Treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy. You may have a combination of treatments. If your doctor recommends watchful waiting, your health will be monitored closely. You will have treatment only if symptoms occur or get worse.

Cancer treatment is either local therapy or systemic therapy:

  • Local therapy: Surgery and radiation therapy are local treatments. They remove or destroy cancer in the prostate. When prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body, local therapy may be used to control the disease in those specific areas.
  • Systemic therapy: Hormone therapy is systemic therapy. Hormones are given to control cancer that has spread.

The treatment that is right for you depends on the stage of the cancer, the grade of the tumor, your symptoms, and your general health. Your doctor will describe your treatment choices and the expected results.

Because cancer treatments often damage healthy cells and tissues, side effects are common. Side effects depend mainly on the type and extent of the treatment. Side effects may not be the same for each man, and they may change from one treatment session to the next.

You should consider both the expected benefits and possible side effects of each treatment option. You may want to discuss with your doctor the possible effects on sexual activity. You can work with your doctor to create a treatment plan that reflects your medical needs and personal values.

At any stage of disease, supportive care is available to control pain and other symptoms, to relieve the side effects of treatment, and to ease emotional concerns.

You may want to talk to your doctor about taking part in a clinical trial, a research study of new treatment methods.

Content Created/Medically Reviewed by our Expert Doctors
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