Prostate Cancer Treatment | Cancer Research UK
How to Cure Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the leading cancer among men and an estimated of 220,000 men are diagnosed with the condition in 2015. In men, prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer. However, with an aggressive treatment regimen and healthy lifestyle habits, the disease can be treated.
Know your options.Your medical team will prescribe the best treatment plan for you. However, it's important to know your options and why one might be better than another. The options for treatment are based on:
- The stage of the cancer (how far a cancer has spread)
- Your age and health status. If you have many health problems (comorbidities) and are unable to tolerate treatment such as radiation or surgery, your doctor may advise a less aggressive approach of treatment.
- Your preference of treatment. Some patients prefer to wait and see, while others prefer more aggressive treatment such as surgery.
Ask about watchful waiting or active surveillance.These are the least rigorous treatment options and usually beneficial for those who are at minimal risk for metastasis.
- Active surveillance is usually used when one needs to be monitored closely but no treatment is recommended at the moment.
- Active surveillance is done using regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests, digital rectal exams (DREs), ultrasounds to observe the progress of the tumor, and/or biopsies.
- The downfall of this process is that this may give your cancer an opportunity to grow and in doing so limit treatment options.
- This is an option for men who have been diagnosed with a very early stage of prostate cancer or have too many other health problems to undergo treatment.
- Prostate cancer is usually a slow growing cancer and therefore these patients can have routine tests to check if their cancer starts to grow more rapidly.
Consult your doctor about radiation therapy.As the name suggests, radiation therapy utilizes high-intensity rays or particles to kill cancer cells. This therapy can be used as a first-line defense in a slow-growing or low-intensity cancer limited to the prostate gland.
- Radiation therapy is also the first-line treatment for metastasized cancer.
- Two types of radiation therapy can be used: beam radiation and brachytherapy (internal radiation).
- During external beam therapy, you lie on a bed while a machine moves around your body, directing radiation to your prostate. This treatment usually requires treatments 5 days per week for several weeks.
- During Brachytherapy, a small rice-sized radioactive seeds are placed in your prostate. The radioactive seeds slowly deliver low doses of radiation over time. Eventually the seeds stop giving off radiation and do not need to be removed.
Ask about cryosurgery.Cryosurgery (also known as cryotherapy or cryoablation) utilizes freezing and can be used for the treatment of early-stage prostate cancer. However, this procedure is not popular with doctors and cannot be utilized for men who have large prostate glands.
- This technique uses transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) during which several hollow probes (needles) are applied into the prostate via the skin area between the anal opening and scrotum.
- Freezing gases are passed through the needles to destroy the tumor.
- The procedure is performed under spinal, epidural, or general anaesthesia.
- Side effects of this procedure include bruising and soreness.
- Although cryosurgery is an economical choice, its long-term benefits are not known.
Consult your doctor about hormone therapy.Also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) or androgen suppression therapy, the main aim of hormone therapy is to decrease the concentrations of male hormones (androgens). Decreasing or stopping androgen concentrations often helps in shrinking the prostate cancer cells.
- The primary androgen is testosterone and it is also the main hormone that cancer cells rely on to help them grow. Cutting the supply of testosterone by giving hormones that inhibit its production may help inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.
- Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) analogues: these drugs decrease the level of testosterone generated by the testicles. This treatment is occasionally called chemical castration or medical castration.
- Anti-androgens or androgen receptor inhibitors: these drugs bind to the androgen receptors and block them so your normal hormones cannot bind the receptors and signal the testicles to produce more testosterone.
- Besides these drugs, there are a few other therapies that can be used (female estrogens and ketoconazole). Consult your doctor which therapy is most appropriate for you.
Ask about surgery.Radical prostatectomy is when the surgeon removes the prostate and its surrounding tissues. However, radical prostatectomy is performed in a variety of ways:
- During radicalretropubic prostatectomy, your doctor will perform a skin incision to your lower abdomen to remove the prostate and surrounding tissues. He may also remove the lymph nodes if needed.
- Another choice is the perineal approach (perineal prostatectomy) in which the skin incision is done between the anus and scrotum. However, this approach is seldom utilized as it causes erection problems and complications are associated with the removal of lymph nodes.
- However, one benefit of perineal prostatectomy is that the duration of the procedure is short and it may be used as an alternative surgical option if you suffer from other medical conditions accompanied by decrease pain and quick recovery.
- Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP),is another option where numerous small slits are made, and specialized instruments are used to take out the prostate.
- This procedure also includes inserting a video camera for visualization by the surgeons. It is somewhat beneficial as compared to the open surgery that includes less incisions, low blood loss and increase healing time, it is cost effective, less scarring, and faster recovery.
- The latest approach utilizes robotic interface, called the robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy(RALRP), and is performed by robotic arms that are controlled by the surgeon.
Ask your doctor about chemotherapy.Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill proliferating cancer cells. The drugs may be administered intravenously or orally in the form of a pill.
- Chemotherapy is usually a treatment option for men with prostate cancer that has already metastasized in distant areas of the body.
- This may also be the treatment option for men who do not respond well with hormonal therapy.
Consult your doctor and ask about vaccine treatment.Vaccination is often utilized for progressive prostate cancer only when hormonal therapy fails.
- The treatment is individualized for each patient and the vaccine is made from your own white blood cells.
- Your white blood cells will be collected and exposed to prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) outside the body. The white blood cells are then transferred back to your body with the idea of building immunity against the cancer cells.
- Although vaccine therapy does not seem to stop prostate cancer from growing, it seems to help to increase life expectancy in men with advanced cancer.
Making Lifestyle Changes
Eat healthy.The treatment for prostate cancer may cause nausea and changes in taste causing you to eat less and lose weight. However, it is important to eat well to help your body fight the cancer. Avoid eating too much, because this may fuel the cancer’s growth. Instead, focus on eating lots of fruits and vegetables to provide your body with plenty of nutrients. Try to eat 2 and ½ cups or more of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Eat lots of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale, because these have been linked with a lower risk of prostate cancer. Tomatoes, soy, and beans may also be helpful.
- You should also try to limit dairy because consuming dairy products has been linked with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Be active.Exercise improves overall health in addition to maintaining your weight and improving your mood. Clinical studies suggest that men who exercise before and after a prostate cancer diagnosis, have better chances for survival and improved quality of life.
- Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
- Always start slowly when beginning a new exercise regimen.
Quit smokingand drinking.Avoid things that increase your risk of prostate cancer such as smoking and heavy alcohol drinking.
- Not only are these bad for your risk of getting prostate cancer, but they are bad for your overall health and increase your risk of other diseases too.
Do calming forms of exercise.Stress, depression and anxiety are common responses to prostate cancer diagnosis, symptoms and the treatment regimen. Learn to manage your stress with exercise and relaxation techniques.
- Try meditation, yoga, controlled breathing and/or visualization to relieve stress.
- Give yourself between 15 and 30 minutes a day for relaxation and use this time to insert positive images and outlook about your illness.
- Exercise also helps manage stress by boosting endorphins.
Get acupuncture.Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that has been around for centuries. Although it is not scientifically proven method for treating prostate cancer, it can ease stress and insert positive energy to you, which in turn will improve your own outlook on life.
What are the risks of greenlight laser surgery?
- There is no home remedy or “alternative medicine” that will cure prostate cancer. Always consult a health professional when seeking treatment.
- Choose healthy food over food supplements. Certain vitamins and minerals such as lycopene found in cooked tomatoes are found to prevent or decrease the risk for prostate cancer.
Sources and Citations
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