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What Treatment Options are Available for Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is among the most common cancers that affect men. A cancer that occurs in the prostate, the small seminal fluid producing gland, prostate cancer can vary in terms of severity. While some prostate cancers may require minimal treatment and grow slowly, others may grow very quickly and require aggressive treatment to prevent spreading.
What treatment options are available for prostate cancer?
Despite being common and sometimes aggressive, prostate cancer is treatable, and early detection can help prevent spreading to the rest of the body. Here are several treatment options available to patients with prostate cancer:
Some forms of prostate cancer may not be treatable with medicine or radiation alone and will require full removal of the prostate gland. This process is known as radical prostatectomy, in which a surgery is performed to remove the prostate gland as well as surrounding lymph nodes and affected tissue. Prostate cancer surgery can be performed by a surgeon or by a surgeon-operated robot. Traditionally a minimally invasive surgery, this procedure can fully remove the cancerous area, preventing the further spread of cancer.
Prostate cancer cells feed off of testosterone, the male hormone naturally produced in the body. Hormone therapy inhibits the testosterone from making contact with the prostate cancer cells, either starving them out or radically reducing the rate at which they reproduce.
There are several types of hormone therapy for suppressing testosterone, such as the use of medications (i.e. Zoladex) that prevent the testicles from producing testosterone. Medication like Casodex does not stop the creation of testosterone but instead blocks the testosterone from making contact with prostate cancer cells. In some cases, hormone therapy may include the removal of the testicles to prevent the further production of testosterone.
Radiation therapy involves the use of high-powered concentrated energy to kill prostate cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be administered using an external radiation therapy beam, or by having radiation seeds placed within the prostate tissue. External beam radiation requires frequent sessions over the course of several weeks. During each session, patients lie still on a table while having radiation administered in much the same way an x-ray would be done.
Implanting radiation seeds, also known as brachytherapy, involves having minuscule radioactive seeds inserted into the prostate using a long needle. These seeds release a concentrated dose of radiation, enough to eradicate cancer cells. Since the radioactive seeds will eventually stop releasing radiation, they do not need to be removed after treatment.
More aggressive/rapidly growing prostate cancer may require chemotherapy treatment. Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill fast-growing cancer cells. Patients requiring chemotherapy to treat their prostate cancer often experience a spread of cancer from the prostate into other areas of the body. Chemotherapy is either administered in liquid form through a vein in the arm or orally as a pill.
Cryosurgery treatment involves freezing prostate tissue in order to kill prostate cancer cells. Administered through a needle, cold gas is applied to the affected tissues. Next, a second gas is used to reheat the tissue. By freezing and thawing the affected prostate tissue, the prostate cancer cells are killed. Cryosurgery is a less common option for treating prostate cancer but may be particularly effective in patients who have not responded to radiation therapy.
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