Prostate Cancer Treatments
Your treatment for Prostate cancer will depend on your type of tumour, how advanced the cancer is and your health in general. Some types of prostate cancer are slow growing and don’t interfere with any bladder function. These types of tumours may not require any further treatment. For more advanced or invasive prostate cancer, treatment will be offered. The two main treatments involved are surgery and radiotherapy.
With some forms of localised prostate cancer, you may be given the option to have your condition regularly monitored rather than treated. This is because certain prostate cancers are slow growing or stop growing and don’t affect any other functions. As some of the treatments for prostate cancer can cause long-term effects, surveillance is a safe way to preserve bladder and prostate function. Your condition will be constantly reviewed and if anything changes, treatment will be offered.
Radiotherapy may be offered to you instead of surgery. Not everyone is suitable for this treatment though, it will depend on how advanced your tumour is.
This uses high dose x-rays to kill cancer cells. You are normally given a long course of treatment which can last up to 7 weeks. Your specialist will use a CT to plan and mark the areas to target. The treatment only lasts a few minutes but it will usually require you to have daily treatment for a number of days or weeks.
Find out more about external radiotherapy here.
Brachytherapy can be done in two ways, the most common method is ‘Permanent Seed Brachytherapy’. This involves implanting tiny low-dose radioactive seeds directly into the prostate to destroy any cancer cells. This treatment may be combined with external radiotherapy and hormone therapy. Generally, this will be offered if your tumour is localised to the prostate. You may also be offered ‘High Dose Rate Brachytherapy’, this involves having rods inserted near to the prostate gland and a radioactive beam will be targeted down these tubes to destroy the cancer cells. Both types of brachytherapy are targeted so damage less healthy tissue than conventional external radiotherapy.
The surgery removes the entire prostate along with the cancer contained and the semi vesicles. This is an effective way of treating localised prostate cancer and may also be offered if you have locally advanced prostate cancer depending on how much the tumour has spread. This surgery can be performed laparoscopically (keyhole) or as an open surgery. Keyhole is less invasive and you are less likely to suffer from erection problems post surgery.
Further information on Radical Prostatectomy can be found here.
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound
This is a fairly new treatment that uses high-frequency ultrasound energy to heat and destroy cancer cells. This treatment involves a probe inserted into the rectum and close to the prostate, a direct ultrasound beam is then emitted up this probe and into the cancer. HIFU is currently be offered as a clinical trial to those with recurrent prostate cancer or for those where radiotherapy hasn’t worked. Your hospital will be able to tell you if they offer this treatment.
Prostate cancer cells usually need the hormone Testosterone to grow, by blocking this hormone this halts the growth of the cancer cells. This is not a curative method, this is used to prevent any further growth or spread. There are three main methods for controlling testosterone production
The injections work by sending signals to the brain to stop the production of testosterone. These may be used as longer term treatment and will be given as a regular injection or sometimes implant.
These tablets are called anti-androgens and work by blocking testosterone from getting to the cancer cells. You may be given tablets alongside radiotherapy.
Surgery to remove testicles
This is called an orchidectomy and may be offered to those who will require long-term treatment for prostate cancer. It is the quickest method for reducing testosterone levels. This may be offered if other hormone treatments haven’t been suitable.
Chemotherapy may be offered to you if you have advanced prostate cancer. Chemotherapy for prostate cancer won’t cure you but it will help to shrink or control the cancer, which can help alleviate symptoms and extend life span. Chemotherapy may be given alongside hormone therapy.
There are two main types of drugs used
- Docetaxel (Taxotere) – the most common first line treatment
- Cabazitaxel (Jevtana) – usually used as a secondary line treatment after initial treatment
You need to be fairly physically fit to have chemotherapy treatment as there are many side effects, which can include:
- Nausea and sickness
- Sore mouth
- Loss of hair
- Prone to infection
To combat the side effects of the chemotherapy, you may need to take a rage of other medication including steroids, anti-sickness, antibiotics and an injection to boost your white blood cells. These all have their own side effects.
Living with prostate cancer can affect you emotionally and socially; sometimes it can help to speak to others who understand your situation. The Bladder & Bowel Community Forum is available 24 hours today and will allow you to connect with those who share your condition. Start your own topic today or just follow one that interests you.