Prostate cancer is becoming a growing concern for older men. Each year in the U.S. there are hundreds of thousands of new cases and tens of thousands of deaths as a result of prostate cancer. Despite these numbers, there are many effective ways to treat prostate cancer.
Close Monitoring. Prostate tumors usually grow slowly, which makes close monitoring a good treatment for some people. Since other treatments may cause more harm than good, close monitoring is an effective way to control slow-growing tumors. That being said, it is difficult to gauge the speed of the tumor growth; therefore, it is very important that you have a close relationship with your doctor and get regular checkups and rectal exams.
Radiation Therapy. Radiation therapy involves killing tumors that are still in the prostate and have yet to spread. This treatment can be very time-consuming and draining, as it requires several treatments per week over a fairly long period of time. It can be very tiring, and there is a possibility that the cancer will return. Also, many patients experience urinary complications shortly after the radiation including frequent urination and/or urinary bleeding or burning. About half of the patients become impotent after two years, as a result of the radiation.
Radical Prostatectomy. This procedure is the removal of the prostate and the nearby lymph nodes. Typically the patient will receive general anesthesia and spend 2-3 days in hospital. The obvious advantage is that the tumor will be removed, however there are some risks associated with the surgery. These include:
- loss of bladder control for the first few months post surgery
- blood loss
- incontinence - about 35% of men experience accidental urine leakage during heavy lifting, coughing or laughing (familydoctor.org)
Hormone Therapy. Taking hormones will decrease androgens (i.e. testosterone) levels. Since testosterone is what causes the tumor to grow, this can be an effective treatment. Often hormone therapy will be effective for only 1-2 years, at which point the goal is symptom control. Once hormone therapy ceases to work, there is no therapy that will cure prostate cancer.