Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer Explained
1 in 7 males will have prostate cancer so it's no surprise if you have already been diagnosed (It’s pretty common.) The next step forward is to decide what treatment options are right for your particular case. Let’s go over a few of them and hopefully by the end you will have a better sense of direction.
Hormonal Treatment / What is it?
Drugs such as leuprolide, goserlin, triporelin, and histrelin; are all LHRH analogs. LHRH analog’s purpose is to lower male hormone levels. These male hormones are called androgens, which include testosterone. Androgens are linked to the growth of prostate cancer cells. By lowering your androgens, you can stunt the growth of prostate cancer. These drugs are administered via shot by placing tiny pellets underneath the skin. Treatments range from once a month to once a year. However, this is not a curing option.
(For lack of a better term) is a surgical castration. This treatment option is mostly used in older men with prostate cancer who don’t want surgery or forms of XRT (External Radiation Treatment) but also don’t want to watch and wait for results. Note that this is not a cure, but it stops the growth of prostate cancer cells that react to hormones
What’s great about an Orchiectomy is it’s a one time procedure. It avoids the need for any shots and the procedure drops the testosterone to zero and is permanent.
This procedure is a permanent outpatient procedure that involves minor surgery. With this comes the risk of bleeding, infection, and pain.
Surgery (Radical Prostatectomy)
This is an operation in which the entire gland of the prostate is removed along with the tissue around it. This only works if the lymph nodes around the prostate have not been infected with cancer yet. If they are, the surgeon may no longer continue with the surgery because it is not likely that the cancer can be cured with surgery. Common side effects of a radical prostatectomy include urinary incontinence and impotence.
External Beam Radiation Therapy ((EBRT)
This procedure is just like it sounds. A laser beam of concentrated radiation is sent to a specific area of the prostate to kill cancerous cells without major surgery. EBRT is a cancer curing option.
For one, you can avoid major surgery and it is also a great option if your prostate cancer is at an early stage. There is less complications post treatment than many other treatment options; incontinence and impotence are noticeably lower.
You also run the risk of rectal bleeding, proctitis, and abnormal urinary and bowel function. Make sure you have the time to undertake this type of treatment because it requires you to receive treatments 5 days a week for 6 to 7 weeks.
Brachytherapy is a procedure in which radioactive seeds are strategically inserted through the perineum (between the rectum and the testes) in order to emit radiation to a targeted area to destroy cancer cells in the prostate.
It is minimally invasive and you can expect a quick recovery in most cases. There are also no transfusions.
If you are suffering from high grade cancer (Gleason score is greater than 7) this may not be for you as larger glands can be more difficult. The chance of impotence or pain during ejaculation ranges from 25-60% in males as well. There is also a chance of rectal irritation, pain, or burning.
There are other options available that are not listed here, but I hope this gives you a better understanding. Talk to your physician about your unique case in order to determine what is right for you.