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3 Approaches To Treating Prostate Cancer

by Caitlin Obara

After a diagnosis of prostate cancer, the next step is determining the stage of cancer so you and your oncologist can decide the best treatment approach for your situation. Fortunately, there are various treatments available, whether your cancer is in the early stages or is metastatic.

Radiation Therapy

For men with low-grade prostate cancer, radiation therapy may be the first-line treatment since it can eliminate cancer in some cases without the need for surgery. If the cancer is advanced or recurrent, radiation may be used in combination with other treatments, either to shrink tumors before surgery or to control metastatic disease. Radiation therapy can be given externally or internally. External radiation is the most classic type and requires one or more appointments before treatment begins so accurate measurements can be taken before treatment. Once treatment begins, you are usually told to lie still in a certain position so the beams of radiation accurately target the prostate. Similar methods include proton-beam radiation. Internal radiation requires general or local anesthetic to place small pellets of radiation. Once they are inserted near the prostate, they slowly emit radiation over time. Since the therapy is targeted, it can reduce damage to nearby, healthy tissues.


Surgical removal of the prostate gland is usually recommended for higher-grade tumors if there is no indication the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or lymph nodes. It is not always possible to determine if the cancer has spread until the surgery begins. During a prostatectomy, the prostate gland is removed and surrounding lymph nodes will be biopsied. Generally, the surgeon may want to have a pathologist nearby so the lymph nodes can be evaluated quickly. If it is determined cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, the surgeon may choose to stop removal of the prostate. There are several approaches to the prostatectomy. If the procedure is done with as an "open" surgery, the prostate is removed through an abdominal incision or an incision in the perineal region. Minimally-invasive alternatives exist, such as robotic-assisted surgery. The options will depend on the method your doctor prefers.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy can take several forms, such as the surgical removal of the testicles or medications used to block androgens that "feed" prostate cancer. These types of treatments are usually reserved for men who have a recurrence of prostate cancer or the cancer has spread. Removal of the testicles can seem drastic, but most of the androgens produced by men are concentrated in this area. Once the testicles are removed, cancerous tumors may slow or stop altogether. Even without androgens, there is no guarantee the tumors will not return or start growing again. Hormonal therapy in the form of medication typically requires a daily pill which can suppress the production of androgens and is a good alternative to surgery.

Even with a diagnosis of prostate cancer, you should not lose hope. There are many standard and novel treatment approaches that can help men live longer or stop cancer altogether. Visit a site like for more help.