Different types of treatment are available for patients with prostate cancer. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.
Five types of standard treatment are used:
Watchful waiting is closely monitoring a patient’s condition without giving any treatment until symptoms appear or change. This is usually used in older men with other medical problems and early- stage disease.
Patients in good health are usually offered surgery as treatment for prostate cancer. The following types of surgery are used:
Radical prostatectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the prostate, surrounding tissue, andseminal vesicles.
- Robotic (da Vinci) Prostatectomy: A minimally invasive surgical, robotic-assisted surgical procedure that removes the cancerous prostate gland and related structures.
- Retropubic prostatectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the prostate through an incision (cut) in the abdominal wall. Removal of nearby lymph nodes may be done at the same time.
- Perineal prostatectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the prostate through an incision (cut) made in the perineum (area between the scrotum and anus). Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed through a separate incision in the abdomen.
- Laparoscopic Prostatectomy: Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy does not make a large incision. Instead, laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is minimally invasive and relies on modern technologies.
Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP): A surgical procedure to remove tissue from the prostate using a resectoscope (a thin, lighted tube with a cutting tool) inserted through the urethra. This procedure is sometimes done to relieve symptoms caused by a tumor before other cancer treatment is given. Transurethral resection of the prostate may also be done in men who cannot have a radical prostatectomy because of age or illness.
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that removes hormones or blocks their action and stops cancer cells from growing. Hormones are substances produced by glands in the body and circulated in the bloodstream. In prostate cancer, male sex hormones can cause prostate cancer to grow. Drugs, surgery, or other hormones are used to reduce the production of male hormones or block them from working.
Hormone therapy used in the treatment of prostate cancer may include the following:
- Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists can prevent the testicles from producing testosterone. Examples are leuprolide (Lupron) and goserelin (Zolodex), and .
- Orchiectomy is a surgical procedure to remove one or both testicles, the main source of male hormones, to decrease hormone production.
- Hot flashes, impaired sexual function, loss of desire for sex, and weakened bones may occur in men treated with hormone therapy. Other side effects include diarrhea, nausea, and pruritus (itching).
PROVENGE is the first cellular immunotherapy. That means PROVENGE is designed to use cells from a patient’s own immune system, the body’s natural defense against disease, to identify and target prostate cancer . PROVENGE is designed to work differently than other kinds of treatment for prostate cancer. The active components of PROVENGE are your own immune cells mixed with a protein that is designed to produce an immune response to prostate cancer. When your immune cells are mixed with the protein, the cells are activated. These activated cells are then infused into your body.
The most common side effects reported with PROVENGE are chills, fatigue, fever, back pain, nausea, joint ache, and headache. For more information, talk with your doctor.