Choosing a treatment for prostate cancer is difficult. Comparing the treatment options involves learning new terminology at the very time you are going through the emotional shock of a cancer diagnosis.
Don’t rush the treatment selection process or allow others to rush you.
Take the lead. Learn about the disease and how to make treatment decisions.
Obtain copies of all medical records, understand them; maintain a chronological log.
Know the type and extent of disease—the Shade—by staging with scans and blood tests.
Seek medical opinions from doctors who specialize in prostate cancer.
Consider success rates and side-effects by considering that the impact of treatment on quality-of-life starts immediately.
Be wary of supposed professionals (or lay people) with rigid, simplistic advice.
Rely on optimistic friends, medical professionals, and support groups.
Prostate cancer is a treatable disease, like hypertension or diabetes. The plethora of treatment options can complicate the treatment decision making process. Here is a very brief introduction to the types of therapy available for men with newly-diagnosed prostate cancer:
No Treatment: Thousands of men undergo aggressive treatment every year for types of prostate cancer that will never be life-threatening. Active Surveillance is becoming more and more popular for men with low-risk prostate cancer as it spares them from side effects of radical treatment.
Local Treatments remove the prostate gland and/or eradicate the cancer within. Examples of local treatment are surgery and radiation. When administered by experts, local treatments cure cancer within the prostate with a high degree of consistency. However, there are two potential drawbacks. First is the risk of irreversible side effects such as sexual, urinary and rectal dysfunction. Second, in a minority of cases the treatment may not cure the cancer if it has already spread outside of the prostate.
Systemic Treatments stop cancer in the whole body, not just the prostate. These options include hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, and immune treatments. Systemic treatments usually suppress rather than cure the cancer. Effective systemic treatment aims to convert prostate cancer into a chronic, non-progressive condition which may be kept in check for many years.
Combination Treatments use systemic and local treatment together. Combination treatment offers the best chance for cure in patients who have disease that is at high-risk of being outside the prostate.
Selecting the best treatment means choosing the right intensity of treatment to achieve control of the cancer without applying excessive treatment that could result in unnecessary side effects. Information about the type and extent of the cancer is obtained by reviewing blood tests, biopsy information, and scan results. All this information is melded to create a cancer profile or stage, the essential first step for selecting the best treatment in each individual.