Find more information about the potential treatment options for prostate cancer that are available to you, and those that are offered at Grace Hospital.
If you’d like to find out more information on a specific type of treatment, you can click through to the relevant page below:
When deciding on a treatment plan to address prostate cancer, you should take time to discuss your options with your doctor, and weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each form of treatment with those that can help you make a decision, like family, friends, or perhaps other men you might know that have been through treatment for prostate cancer.
The type of treatment your doctor will suggest will depend on a number of factors, but ultimately, you must choose the course of action that will give you the best outcome for you, all things considered.
Some men with advanced cancer want extensive treatment, even if the chance of cure is slight. Other men are more concerned that benefits should outweigh the risks of side effects. For others, quality of life will be more important than extension of life.
If given at an early stage of prostate cancer, treatment can cure the disease. However, there are still benefits of treatment once the cancer has spread. Treatment can help extend life and relieve symptoms, and as new methods of treatment have been developed, men with prostate cancer are living longer, with less discomfort and fewer side effects from the treatment. With good control of the disease (or remission), men can often return to normal or nearly normal health and normal lives.
- The stage of the cancer (click here to read about the stages of prostate cancer)
- PSA levels
- The rate at which the cancer is growing (Gleason Score)
- Size, type, growth, pattern and spread of the cancer
- The patient’s age and life expectancy
- Severity of symptoms (click here to find out more about the symptoms)
- Personal needs and considerations
- Potential side effects
- Any other medical problems
Depending on the stage of the cancer and your unique needs and circumstances, your doctor will suggest either an active monitoring option, or one or more forms of treatment.
Sometimes prostate cancer is not treated on diagnosis, if at all.
Some types of prostate cancer grow very slowly, and in some cases, men can live for many years with prostate cancer without major problems.
Often doctors consider that the treatment of a slowly progressing prostate cancer has more negative impacts to a patient’s life than benefits.
Watchful waiting may be suggested as the best option to maintain quality of life of those diagnosed with a very early stage of prostate cancer, very slowly progressing cancer, for someone without symptoms, for elderly men, or for those who have other serious health conditions.
The patient will be closely monitored – tested regularly using rectal exams, PSA blood tests and possibly prostate biopsy. If these tests show that the prostate cancer is growing, becomes aggressive, or the symptoms appear and become unmanageable, the doctor will then look at other treatment options.
Different doctors have varying opinions on the treatment of prostate cancer, and their recommendations will take many factors into account, including whether the cancer is metastatic or localised. Commonly, one or more of the following treatments are used to manage prostate cancer:
Treatments for Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Hormonal therapy is a common treatment choice in the advanced stages of prostate cancer, as it acts to block the effect of male hormones on the prostate. It cannot cure the cancer, but it can shrink the tumour or decrease the growth rate of the cancer. It is often used in conjunction with another treatment option. Find out more about hormonal therapy
External beam radiation therapy
High-energy X-rays are focused at the area the cancer has affected to kill the cancer cells. It can be used in conjunction with brachytherapy (see below) in some cases. See more information about external beam radiation therapy
Treatments for Localised Prostate Cancer
Simple surgery can be used to ease symptoms, however radical surgery is used to treat prostate cancer by removing the entire prostate.
Brachytherapy involves the insertion of a small radioactive source inside the prostate to kill the cancer cells.
Cryotherapy for prostate cancer involves the controlled freezing of the prostate gland in order to destroy cancerous cells.
These treatments are available in the Bay of Plenty, at Grace Hospital in Tauranga in the following forms:
Robotic Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy
A robotic assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (RALP) is the removal of the entire prostate gland using advanced robot technology.
Robotic prostatectomy enables the surgeon to perform the procedure with better visibility, and in a minimally invasive fashion, with five small incisions in the abdomen.
Open Radical Prostatectomy
A radical prostatectomy is the open removal of the entire prostate, the seminal vesicles, the nearest portions of the vas deferens, the tissue immediately surrounding them, and some of their associated pelvic lymph nodes.
The surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen and carries out the operation through this incision.
Brachytherapy can be administered in a low-dose or high-dose process, depending on the cancer.
Low-dose rate brachytherapy involves inserting tiny radioactive seeds permanently into the prostate gland to administer radiation to the cancer cells. High-does rate brachytherapy sees a small radioactive source inserted into the prostate inside several needles.
Cryotherapy is administered in a manner similar to that of prostate brachytherapy. Special needles called “cryoprobes” are placed into the prostate transperineally (through the skin between the scrotum and rectum) under the guidance of transrectal ultrasound (where images are produced by an ultrasound probe inserted into the rectum). The cancer cells are killed as they are subjected to extreme cold.
Cryotherapy is usually used as a salvage treatment for patients who have already had radiation therapy without positive results.