Treatment of Prostate Cancer
Treatment of prostate cancer includes a number of options. However, there is no right answer for the best treatment of prostate cancer because there is generally a lack of good data from well-run trials to determine the best course of therapy overall. Some treatments also work better than others depending on the nature, stage and extent of the disease. That’s one reason why it is so important to consult with several experts when making your treatment decision as well as considering other factors such as lifestyle, importance of sexual function and potential side effects. There are also a number of risk assessment tools such as the UCSF-CAPRA Score and the D’Amico classification as well as a number of nomograms can help guide your decision making process. Read more on choosing your prostate cancer treatment
Conventional Treatment of Prostate Cancer
The conventional treatment approach for prostate cancer can involve doing nothing (watchful waiting) to high-tech surgeries, and anticancer treatments.
You and your doctor may discuss “watchful waiting” or “active surveillance” (as it is also known), depending on the stage, level of risk, and other factors like your age and lifestyle priorities. This is the most basic treatment of prostate cancer, and it involves doing nothing more than keeping an eye on the situation. The patient typically returns to the doctor routinely for examinations to make sure the disease has not taken a turn for the worse.
While your doctor has you on active surveillance, your will still continue to monitor your PSA, have regular digital rectal exams (DREs), and have regular ultrasounds to monitor your cancer to see if it is growing. Read more on Watchful Waiting
Male hormones are like fuel for prostate tumors, which cannot grow without them. Conventional hormone therapy is designed to reduce the levels of the fueling male hormones—primarily testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT)—and thereby starve the tumor. Hormone therapy is also called androgen deprivation therapy, and it is usually recommended for advanced prostate cancer. It has side effects that may include hot flashes, impotence, loss of sexual desire, loss of muscle mass, and weight gain, as well as others. Read more on Hormone Therapy
Radiation therapy involves exposing the prostate and surrounding areas to x-rays or other types of radiation designed to destroy cancer cells or at least prevent them from growing and spreading. External radiation comes from a machine outside of the body. The radiation is directed at the prostate by putting radioisotopes through tubes that are inserted into the area being treated. Internal radiation involves putting radioactive implants right into the caner tumor. Radiation can cause some short-term side effects such as fatigue and red, swollen, sensitive, or peeling skin. Long-term effects include darkening of the skin, erectile dysfunction, and urinary symptoms. Read more on Radiation
Chemotherapy involves taking drugs that kill cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying. It is usually administered via intravenous lines and is reserved for men who have stage III or IV cancers. Chemotherapy medications attack rapidly-multiplying cells. That is why they work well on cancer cells, however that aslo leads to side effects. Chemo affects areas of the body that also have cells that divide quickly causing common symptoms such as hair loss, sores in the mouth, lack of appetites, nausea, vomiting. diarrhea, lowered resistance, fatigue, and bruising. These are usually short-term side effects. Read more on Chemotherapy for Prostate Cancer
The goal of prostate cancer surgery is to remove all the cancer, maintain the best possible urinary function, and have limited impact on sexual function. Removal of the prostate, a procedure called radical prostatectomy, is one of the main treatments for prostate cancer. It involves removing the prostate gland, and its surrounding tissues such as the seminal vesicles and lymph nodes. If the cancer is contained with the prostate this surgery can cure the prostate cancer. There are different approaches to the surgery that patients should ask their doctors about: open prostatectomy and two minimally invasive procedures called laparoscopic prostatectomy and robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy. Read more on Surgery for Prostate Cancer
Cryosurgery is a minimally invasive procedure that can be used to treat early stage prostate cancer. It involves inserting ultrathin cryoneedles into the prostate and freezing the entire gland. It is done with spinal epidural or general anesthesia. A doctor uses an ultrasound to minimize damage to surrounding tissues. A catheter is kept in place for three weeks following the procedure. Short-term side effects include blood in the urine, bruising, swelling, and soreness. Long term effects may include nerve damage and erectile dysfunction in some cases. Read more on Cryosurgery
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, or HIFU, an emerging therapy that destroys tissue with rapid heat that is focused on the malignancy in the prostate gland. The doctor inserts a transrectal probe into the rectum to reach the prostate area with ultrasound beams. The treatment minimizes damage to surrounding tissues. It does not have any major side effects, and a study shows that 9 out of 10 patients were cancer free 12 months after treatment. Read more on HIFU
Overview of Traditional Stages of Treatment of Prostate Cancer
- After the initial diagnosis of prostate cancer, some men may be treated with surgery to remove the prostate while others may be treated with radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can be given through external beam radiation, radioactive seeds, or a combination of both.
- After surgery or radiation therapy, your PSA levels are monitored. If your PSA levels begin to rise, the cancer may be coming back. At this point, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy. There are many different kinds of hormone therapy and you may receive one kind or several kinds, depending on what your doctor determines is best for you. As a result of hormone therapy, your PSA levels should remain low.
- If your PSA levels start to rise while on hormone therapy, you may be hormone refractory (meaning it does not respond to hormone treatment). In addition, if the cancer has spread outside the prostate gland, you may have metastatic disease (meaning the cancer has spread to other parts of the body).This may mean that the prostate cancer has become advanced. Your doctor may choose immunotherapy, such as PROVENGE, if you have few or no prostate cancer pain-related symptoms. For men who have significant cancer-related pain, chemotherapy is an option.
- After one type of chemotherapy, a different type of chemotherapy or a different hormone therapy are options.
Alternative Treatment of Prostate Cancer
A wide variety of alternative and complementary treatment options are available for prostate cancer and are sometimes used in conjunction with conventional therapies.
Once diagnosed with a prostate disease, it’s important to take immediate steps to provide your body with the best nutrition for maximum immunity and prostate health. Certain foods have significant cancer fighting properties while others can harm your prostate. In fact, the foods you choose and the way you live your life have a major impact on whether or not you will develop prostate problems, and especially prostate cancer. Cancer experts and nutrition and diet studies estimate that our food choices account for up to 90 percent of cancers of the prostate, breast, pancreas, and colon. Even lung cancer is believed to have a dietary link. If you’re skeptical, consider the rates of prostate cancer in China compared with those in North America. In 2002, there were 1.6 cases of prostate cancer for every 100,000 males in China, compared with 120 cases per 100,000 in North America. That’s 75 times the rate in China! (Parkin 2005) More on The Prostate Diet
Maintaining a prostate friendly lifestyle is extremely important for overall prostate health and reducing your risk of prostate cancer. In fact, lifestyle can actually contribute to prostate cancer including certain work environments, having exposure to chemicals, being sedentary, eating high fat diets and consuming excess red meat and other foods with limited nutritional value amongst many other things. Indeed, most experts believe that lifestyle and diet are the leading contributors to the high levels of prostate cancer in more developed nations like the USA and Europe as compared to Asia and less developed countries. On the flip side, stress management, meditation, nutrition and diet, natural therapies, supplements, weight loss and exercise have all been shown to positively influence the risk of getting prostate cancer. Taking daily positive steps to influence your prostate health through lifestyle changes will determine how strong your defenses are to fight against disease. More on The 6 Pillars of Prostate Health
Supplements can support an overall wellness program for prostate cancer. Those that have demonstrated a benefit for prostate health include omega 3, astragalus, cat’s claw, essiac tea, rye pollen, quercetin, ginseng, vitamin D, lycopene, cayenne pepper, pomegranate, curcumin as well as many others. Certain supplements an lifestyle changes have been shown to slow cancer growth. More on Supplements for Prostate Cancer
Both of these Eastern medicine models use a combination of natural approaches to combat cancer and strengthen the physical and emotional bodies and overall immunity through both mental and physical health. These natural approaches involve herbal therapy, eating certain types of foods foods, and affecting the energy flow in the body. Read more about Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine