Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men. There are a number of ways to treat prostate cancer. Every method involves a process of decision making, support from friends and family, and understanding side effects that result from the treatments and dealing with them.
Men with prostate cancer that is detected in its early stages have several treatment options before them. Their age and general health condition have a major role to play in the mode of treatment.
What Treatments are Available for Prostate Cancer?
Choosing a treatment plan once the diagnosis and staging are done is a decision to be taken by you and your doctor. It involves a lot of careful thought. You will want to consider the benefits of each treatment plan against its risks and side effects. For example, some men may choose to select options with fewer side effects that may be more mild, like incontinence and erectile dysfunction, whereas some men choose to ignore side effects and just want the cancer killed or destroyed.
Treatments for prostate cancer vary depending on the intensity of the cancer. These treatments can range from watchful waiting to surgical removal of the tumor. Some of the treatments available are:
- Watchful waiting or active surveillance. This method is used if the cancer is growing slowly. The cancer is checked periodically, usually every six months, to see if it is manifesting. Should the cancer show signs of growth, then other different treatments will have to be employed.
- Surgery. If the cancer is not found to have spread, then surgery is often the most common choice of treatment. It involves removal of the entire prostate and some tissue around it.
- Hormone treatment. This involves using hormones to destroy the cancer cells. Male hormone cells called androgens stimulate prostate cells to grow. Thus, the aim of hormone therapy is to reduce the level of male hormones. The hormones are added, removed, or blocked to suit the treatment.
- Radiation therapy. This form of treatment uses x-rays to treat the affected parts by killing the cancer cells.
- Cryotherapy. This involves freezing the tumor. Very cold gases are used to freeze and kill the prostate cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy. Anti-cancer drugs are taken intravenously or by mouth. They travel through the bloodstream and destroy cancer cells, making this treatment option more suitable if cancer has metastasized or spread to other parts of the body.
- Vaccine treatment. This method is used to treat advanced cases of prostate cancer that are causing few or no symptoms. This vaccine boosts the body’s immune system to help it attack the prostate cancer cells.
Information regarding cancer often involves data for survival rates. Understanding survival rates for prostate cancer will help give you a clearer picture of how likely your treatment is to be successful. Arguably, they are just estimates, so it is an option that men can choose to look into or not.
Advancement in cancer treatment options constantly lead to the development of newer methods of treatment, and this may sometimes complicate decision making. Many of these may look promising, but it is important to remember that they are not backed up by long term studies or data. Hence, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to weigh the positives against the negatives.
How are the Treatments Administered?
The treatments are mostly done one at a time, although sometimes they may be combined. Treatments vary based on the following factors:
- The extent of the cancer
- The side effects of the treatment
- The age of the patient
- The health condition of the patient
Decision making can be a complex and daunting process, and involving friends and family is recommended rather than going at it alone. Before deciding on a treatment, it is good to think about the several available options and discuss them with your doctor. Consulting the second opinion of other people is also important. This can be done by talking with friends or with people who have experienced the condition before. You might also want to consider getting a second opinion from other specialist doctors. This way you will be more educated about various treatment options, and your primary doctor may help you make the best choice.
What if a Treatment is Not Working?
It is important to acquire as much information as possible on the available treatments. This helps in making the best choice on which treatment is best for you. During treatments, patients require the support of friends and family. They should be encouraged and motivated so as to quicken the recovery.
If a treatment proves to not be working, you can opt for other treatments after consultations with your doctor. At times, the side effects of a treatment outweigh the benefits of the treatment. Under such conditions, you can opt to stop the treatment if it doesn’t prove helpful.
Prostate cancer treatments are usually accompanied with side effects with the most common side effect being erectile dysfunction. This is a problem that affects men not only physically but emotionally, as well. They will therefore require all the support they can get from family and friends.
These side effects will require other types of treatments to deal with them. It is for these reasons you are required to ensure that you think everything through before undertaking a treatment. Some will have more severe side effects than others, thus making it necessary to consider them carefully.
Feelings of anxiety and depression are normal for a prostate cancer survivor, but it is important to address your worries with those closest to you and your doctor.
The Bottom Line
Prostate cancer is a disease that has a wide range of treatments to choose from. Being diagnosed with cancer does not mean death. By analyzing all the treatments well and choosing the most suitable one, any treatment is likely to work and cure the condition.
All patients are entitled to as much information as possible from their doctors. The patients need support before, during, and after treatment so that they get better sooner. As a man with prostate cancer, you also need information on how to fight erectile dysfunction, as this is a common complication.