What does Prostate Cancer Treatment Involve?
There are countless successful treatments for prostate cancer.
Most men diagnosed with a tumour on this organ can expect to live many more years. Although the success of the treatment naturally depends on how the cancer has evolved.
If it is detected at an early stage and is still located only in the prostate, the treatment can be curative. Brachytherapy, surgery and external radiotherapy are all possible treatments if the tumour is at an early stage.
If the cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage, i.e. if it is no longer located only in the prostate, the treatments are more aggressive. In these cases, the purpose of the treatment is palliative. The aim is to control the disease, hinder its evolution and minimise the symptoms.
As a rule, therefore, the earlier prostate cancer is diagnosed, the greater the effectiveness of the treatment and the fewer the consequences of the tumour and treatments, and the complications and side effects.
What are the Treatments for Prostate Cancer?
The range of treatments available may cause considerable confusion among patients and family members. The doctor has a key role to play in this area. S/he must inform and discuss the most effective treatments for the patient’s specific case.
Prostate cancer treatment can involve surgery, brachytherapy or external radiotherapy.
In other cases, it may involve systemic treatments, i.e. drugs that affect the entire body, such as hormone therapy (to block the action of testosterone) or chemotherapy.
In addition to individual treatments, the doctor may deem it important to combine various therapeutic approaches in the aim of boosting the results of various techniques.
Other treatments also exist such as second line hormone therapy, immunotherapy and therapy with radionuclides to treat bone metastases.
Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer
Prostate brachytherapy is one of the most common and effective treatments for localised prostate cancer.
Laparoscopic Surgery for Prostate Cancer
Laparoscopic surgery, also known as laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, is a surgical therapy used in the treatment of localised prostate cancer.
Robotic Surgery for Prostate Cancer
Robot-assisted surgery for prostate cancer is an innovative treatment. It consists of using robotic equipment that is fully controlled by the doctor.
Open Surgery for Prostate Cancer
Open surgery, also known as open radical prostatectomy, is the classical procedure in which the surgeon accesses the prostate through surgical incision.
External Radiotherapy for Prostate Cancer
External radiotherapy is a technique used to treat localised prostate cancer.
Brachytherapy treats 80–90% of localised prostate cancers
Prostate brachytherapy is one of the most common and effective treatments for localised prostate cancer. It has various benefits when compared with other treatments.
Dr. José Santos Dias provides initial information about treatment for localised prostate cancer.
Dr. José Santos Dias explains the procedure for treating advanced stage prostate cancer.
What is the follow-up care after treatment?
The length of treatment for a prostate cancer patient is very variable. It depends on the stage of the disease when the problem is detected and the type of treatment chosen.
Some treatments only need to be performed once. They take 1 to 2 hours and require less than 24 hours in hospital (such as brachytherapy).
Others, like radiotherapy, can last around a month and a half. As a rule, surgery implies 2–5 days in hospital and a variable period of catheterisation.
In more advanced cases, many patients have to undergo lifelong treatment. For example, men undergoing hormone treatment for more advanced stage cancer.
Regardless of the length of treatment, patients with prostate cancer need regular follow-up care throughout their life – at least until 15 years after the initial treatment.
Urologists must assess the PSA level regularly and other general and specific tests are often necessary (to assess levels of testosterone, kidney function and bone-related products, for example), as well as imaging exams. These exams range from the more straightforward (ultrasound scans) to the more sophisticated (NMR and the more recent PET-CT with PSMA).
All men with cancer are markedly affected from a psychological point of view. The shock of the news and the consequences of the disease and the treatment process that follows can “shake” a person’s entire individual, family and social foundations.
These patients therefore need specialist psychological care to recover from the life changes this disease causes.
This support is essential so that a patient can mobilise all their strength and family resources to fight the disease and return as quickly as possible to a normal life.
At the Instituto da Próstata, patients with malignant urological diseases, and specifically those with prostate cancer, are provided with a wide variety of strategies and support resources to achieve that end.
Our team includes specialists in psychiatry and psychologists with specific training in this area to help patients deal with the disease and overcome its consequences.
Want to know more about prostate cancer treatments?
Dr. José Santos Dias
Clinical Director of the Instituto da Próstata
- Bacherlor's Degree from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Lisbon
- Specialist in Urology
- Fellow of the European Board of Urology
- Autor dos livros "Tudo o que sempre quis saber Sobre Próstata", "Urologia fundamental na Prática Clínica", "Urologia em 10 minutos","Casos Clínicos de Urologia" e "Protocolos de Urgência em Urologia"
FAQs about Prostate Cancer Treatment
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- DIAS, José Santos. Urologia Fundamental: na prática clínica. Lisboa: Lidel - Edições Técnicas, Lda, 2010.
- DIAS, José Santos. Tudo o que sempre quis saber sobre a Próstata. Lisboa: Lidel - Edições Técnicas, Lda, 2014.
- Follow-up after prostate cancer treatment, What happens next? - https://prostatecanceruk.org/media/2498960/follow-up-after-prostate-cancer-treatment-what-happens-next-ifm.pdf
- Advanced Prostate Cancer: Frequently Asked Questions - https://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/prostate-cancer-faq#1
- Cryotherapy for prostate cancer - https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cryotherapy-for-prostate-cancer/about/pac-20384740
- Treating Prostate Cancer - https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/treating.html
- Prostate Cancer Treatment Options - https://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/video/marks-treatment-prostate-cancer