Once the proper Stage of Blue is assigned, the different treatments appropriate for that Stage can be considered. Overall, there are four broad categories of treatment available for prostate cancer: observation, local treatments, systemic treatments, and combination therapy.
Observation, commonly known as “active surveillance,” is the process of monitoring the cancer while reserving medical intervention until some aggressive behavior is detected.
Strategies that focus treatment on the prostate gland are called “local” treatments. Examples are surgery, radioactive seed implantation, varieties of external beam radiation therapy (IMRT, Proton, SBRT), and cryosurgery. In addition, “focal” treatment options have been developed in which only a subsection of the gland is treated.
The main danger from prostate cancer is the possibility of cancer spreading outside the prostate. Men with metastases (or potential microscopic metastases) require systemic treatment that circulates through the blood and treats cancer throughout the whole body. Examples of systemic treatments are hormonal therapies, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and Xofigo.
When a local treatment is combined with a systemic treatment, or if multiple systemic treatments are used at the same time, it is called “combination therapy.” When combination therapy is being considered with the goal of improving survival, the survival advantages need to be balanced against the potential for greater side effects.