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Prostate Cancer Treatments

Once your cancer has been diagnosed and staged, you and your doctor will decide on the best treatment for your specific case. Treatment for prostate cancer is chosen based on several factors including:

  • How fast your cancer is growing
  • How much it has spread
  • Your overall health
  • Your age
  • Potential risks and side effects of treatment

Prostate Cancer Treatments

Once your cancer has been diagnosed and staged, you and your doctor will decide on the best treatment for your specific case. Treatment for prostate cancer is chosen based on several factors including:

  • How fast your cancer is growing
  • How much it has spread
  • Your overall health
  • Your age
  • Potential risks and side effects of treatment

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Is Prostate Cancer Curable?

As with most cancers, finding and treating prostate cancer early increases the chances of remaining disease-free. The cure rate for prostate cancer is very high when it’s diagnosed before it has spread outside of the prostate gland. Survival rates, which are based on the percentage of people still alive after 5 years, are favorable for prostate cancers diagnosed early:

  • 5-year relative prostate cancer survival rate is almost 100 percent1
  • 10-year relative prostate cancer survival rate is approximately 98 percent1
  • 15-year relative prostate cancer survival rate is approximately 95 percent1

It is important to keep in mind that these are only estimates and many go on to live for many more years.

Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

Prostate cancer treatment can include a combination of therapies or even no action, depending on how early your cancer is detected. Treatments range from traditional options, such as a prostatectomy to surgically remove the prostate to newer, less invasive treatments, such as High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU).

The following provides information on many of the treatments for prostate cancer that are available.

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)²

This non-invasive alternative to traditional prostate cancer treatment, such as surgery or radiation, ablates diseased prostate tissue without the use of radiation. During the treatment, the doctor directs a focused beam of ultrasound energy to the prostate gland through a rectal probe. The energy heats up rapidly and destroys the targeted tissue. It targets the prostate tissue with pinpoint accuracy and because there are no incisions, patients are able to return to their regular activities after just a few days. It is performed on an outpatient basis so no hospital stay is required.

HIFU is used to treat first time and recurrent localized prostate cancer.  Along with not requiring a long recovery, this type of prostate cancer treatment also minimizes the risk of damage to surrounding tissue and doesn’t cause the side effects associated with radiation and surgery. The entire procedure can take less than three hours.

HIFU was cleared by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015 for the treatment of prostate cancer and other prostate disease. Though relatively new in the United States, HIFU has been used in Canada since 2003, and more than 45,000 men have been treated worldwide with HIFU for prostate cancer to date.

Call us today at 877-722-2796 to learn more about HIFU and to find out if you’re a candidate for this life-changing procedure!


Cryotherapy3 uses extreme cold to freeze and kill cancer cells and is most commonly used in men whose cancer has returned after radiation therapy. It is performed under epidural or general anesthesia. The doctor uses transrectal ultrasound to guide needles through the perineum, which is the skin between the scrotum and anus. Cold gases are passed through the needles to destroy the prostate through freezing. Most patients are able to go home within 24 hours of the procedure.

The possible side effects of cryotherapy may include swelling, pain and burning, and bladder and bowel issues. Urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction may also occur.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy3 uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. For men with low-grade prostate cancer that is only in the prostate gland, radiation therapy can offer the similar cure rates to radical prostatectomy.

Radiation therapy may be one of the prostate cancer treatment options recommended:

  • As first treatment for those with low-grade cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate gland.
  • As part of treatment alongside hormone therapy for prostate cancer that have grown outside of the prostate gland into surrounding tissues.
  • When cancer recurs or was not entirely removed following surgery.
  • For those with advanced prostate cancer (stage 4 prostate cancer) in attempt to keep then cancer under control for as long as possible.

Radiation can be delivered two ways: externally or internally. External beam radiation therapy is delivered through a machine that moves around your body while you lie on a table. Brachytherapy is administered by implanting radioactive “seeds” inside your prostate.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy3 for prostate cancer works by cutting off the supply of male hormones that help prostate cancer cells to grow. There are different types of hormone therapy medications available, including those that stop your body from producing androgens (luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH) agonists) and those that block androgens from reaching cancer cells (anti-androgens).

Hormone therapy may be used to shrink tumors before undergoing radiation therapy for early-stage prostate cancer. It is also used in men with advanced prostate cancer to shrink and slow the growth of tumors.

The possible side effects of hormone therapy for prostate cancer may include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Loss of bone mass
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Weight gain

Chemotherapy3 uses anti-cancer drugs that are administered via IV or orally to kill cancer cells. Chemo is used to treat prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate gland and after hormone therapy has failed. There are several different chemotherapy drugs available to treat stage 4 prostate cancer. Chemotherapy is given in cycles that allow a rest period between each. Anti-nausea medications and steroids are also used during chemo to help prevent common side effects. Side effects of chemotherapy may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Low white and red blood cell counts
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Fatigue

Currently, chemotherapy is not a standard treatment for early-stage cancer, though researchers are considering the benefits that chemotherapy applied for a short time may offer.

Biological Therapy (Immunotherapy)

Biological therapy3, which is also called immunotherapy, boosts your body’s immune system to help fight cancer cells. Some of your own immune cells are removed and then genetically engineered in a lab to fight cancer cells before being injected back into your body. Immunotherapy is used to treat advanced prostate cancer that is no longer responding to hormone therapy. Side effects are generally mild and only occur at the start of infusion. This type of treatment for prostate cancer can be very expensive and requires multiple treatments.

Active Surveillance

Active surveillance3 or watchful waiting is a fairly common option for men with slow-going cancer or older men with other serious medical conditions. Active surveillance may also be an option for men whose prostate cancer is small, localized in the prostate and isn’t causing any symptoms. This would not be suitable for men with aggressive cancer.

Regular testing is used to monitor the cancer and treatment is only given if there is a change in the cancer or if symptoms develop. Digital rectal exams and blood tests to check PSA levels are used every few months to keep an eye on the cancer, along with yearly biopsies.


Surgery3 is used commonly to cure cancer that has not spread outside of the prostate gland. The most common type of surgery is a radical prostatectomy, which entails removing the prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissue, including the seminal vesicles. A prostatectomy can be performed through open surgery via an incision in the abdomen or the perineum, which is the portion of skin between the anus and the scrotum.

A radical prostatectomy may also be performed laparoscopically through a series of tiny incisions and special surgical tools. During a laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP), the surgeon inserts a long, thin instrument with a camera on the end into a tiny incision and other small instruments through other very small incisions. This allows the surgeon to view the procedure on a monitor. The smaller incisions used during a laparoscopic prostatectomy allow for a quicker recovery and less pain than open surgery.

Another approach to a laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is a robotic prostatectomy, which uses a robotic interface (da Vinci system) to perform the procedure. During a robotic prostatectomy, the surgeon operates a robotic arm using a control panel to perform the surgery through tiny incisions.

As with any surgical procedure, there is always the risk of bleeding, blood clots, and infection. Radical prostatectomy also carries a risk of incontinence.

Your doctor can advise you about what treatment is appropriate for your individual case.

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  1. American Cancer Society Survival Rates for Prostate Cancer (accessed May 24, 2017)
  2. For complete details, see manufacturer website . 
  3. American Cancer Society Treating Prostate Cancer (accessed May 24, 2017)