Prostate Cancer Treatments Options

Although there are a number of available options for prostate cancer treatments, selecting which treatment program to use in a given case of prostate cancer is usually not a simple decision. There are several factors that must be considered on an individual basis including age, the presence of other medical conditions, the characteristics of the cancer itself, and the patient's wishes.

Up to 50 percent of all cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in those over the age of 70. As a consequence, there are often other health concerns that could have a direct bearing on the type of treatment that will be used. History of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes could be worsened by some medical treatments; in some cases, it places the prostate cancer patient at a higher risk of surgical complications. Two other important factors that will influence the treatment are the grade of the cancer, which focuses on the rate at which cancer cells are dividing, and its stage, which is whether or not the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Based on the factors considered above, available treatments for prostate cancer fall into three general groups: medical, surgical or a combination thereof.

Medical treatment for prostate cancer will, in most cases, involve the use of the female hormone estrogen which, by suppressing the amount of male hormones such as testosterone in the bloodstream, will slow the growth of the tumor or cause it to shrink or even disappear. Prostate cancer is also sensitive to the use of radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy, the use of drugs used that attack the cancer cells directly, is reserved for cases of prostate cancer that have spread to other areas of the body.

Surgery for prostate cancer can include anything from the implantation of small radioactive bundles known as "seeds" that are used to deliver a constant dose of radiation to the tumor up to and including the complete removal of the prostate itself. Although surgical removal of the tumor offers the potential of a complete cure for prostate cancer, there are a number of complications such as erectile dysfunction or bladder control issues that can occur following prostate surgery.

There are several new treatments for prostate cancer which combine both medical and surgical therapy. Among the more promising are the use of small tubes or catheters that are then used to apply either very cold substances such as liquid nitrogen directly into the cancer itself or use ultra-high frequency sound waves, or even microwaves, to destroy tumors within the gland itself.

The final decision regarding what treatments of prostate cancer to use should occur only after the patient and his physician have discussed the advantages and disadvantages of all treatment options and will, ultimately, rest with the patient.

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