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November 9, 2007

Prostate Cancer Treatment Options - 4 Options for Cancer Patients

It's difficult to refer to anything cancer-related as a "good thing," but one of the relatively good things about prostate cancer is that there are a number of ways to treat it.

If you have prostate cancer, you should understand the different types of prostate cancer treatment and speak to your physician about each option. As with many other types of cancer, doctors often disagree the best treatment option for patients with prostate cancer. The number of treatment options will also vary depending on how advanced/widespread the cancer is in a particular patient.

So again, the best you can do is educate yourself about the various prostate cancer treatment options and seek opinions from more than one specialist in the field.

With that being said, here are some of the most common treatments for prostate cancer.

Treatment Option #1 - Prostate Surgery

Surgery is possibly the most common form of prostate cancer treatment. The goal of such surgery is to remove the entire prostate from the body, thus removing the cancer along with it. But while the goal of prostate surgery is almost always the same, the method of surgery varies.

Current technology enables doctors to perform robotic surgery for prostate removal, which can minimize hospital time and expedite recovery. Robotic prostate surgery, as it is known, uses minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques.

Treatment Option #2 - Radiation Therapy

Current research shows that surgery and radiation therapy have similar success rates, though the two prostate cancer treatments have different side effects.
With radiation therapy, high-energy rays (similar to x-rays) are used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors within the prostate. The main types of radiation therapy for prostate cancer are (1) external beam radiation and (2) brachytherapy, or internal radiation. Though both options have decent success rates, there is more data and information about external beam radiation -- at least at the time of this writing (August 2007).

Treatment Option #3 - Hormonal Therapy

Hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy, is another prostate cancer treatment option.

With hormone therapy, reduce the level of male hormones (androgens) in the body. Androgens such as testosterone are produced in testicles and have been shown to stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells. Therefore, by lowering androgen levels within the body, doctors can also slow the growth of cancer shells, or even shrink them.

Side note: In a related article on this website, we discuss the possible causes of prostate cancer, and under the dietary section there is a similar mention this link between testosterone and prostate cancer growth.

Currently, doctors disagree on several aspects of hormone therapy as a prostate cancer treatment. The most common points of dispute are the best time to start such therapy, the best time to stop the therapy, and the method of administering the therapy.

Treatment Option #4 - Chemotherapy

Most people are familiar with chemotherapy as a general treatment for most cancers. Chemotherapy is also another form of prostate cancer treatment as well.

With chemotherapy, anti-cancer drugs are introduced into the body. Because of the many different ways to administer these drugs, there are certain oncologists (cancer doctors) who specialize in the proper administration of chemotherapy.

As a treatment for prostate cancer, chemotherapy is usually reserved for advanced cases wherein the cancer cells are not responding to other forms of cancer treatment. One of the most important things to realize about chemotherapy is that the drugs are very strong. Thus, they can make a patient very sick even while reducing or eliminating cancer. Chemo can attack and kill cancer cells, but it can also damage healthy cells as well.

Side effects of chemotherapy depend on the types of drugs used, the dosage and the length of time they are taken. But in general, side effects of chemotherapy include the following:

* hair loss
* loss of appetite
* mouth sores
* nausea and vomiting
* lower resistance to infection (low white blood cell counts)
* easy bruising or bleeding (low blood platelets)
* general tiredness or fatigue (low red blood cells)

Conclusion

When considering your treatment options for prostate cancer, it's important to get multiple opinions from cancer specialists and to educate yourself as much as possible. This article is just an overview of prostate cancer treatment options, therefore we highly recommend you seek other sources of knowledge before making a decision about treatment.

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Brandon Cornett is the publisher of Prostate Surgery Center, an unbiased guide to
prostate cancer and the surgeries associated with it. Learn more by visiting http://www.prostatesurgerycenter.com/

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