If you've recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may be somewhat relieved at the news that your cancer is in the very early stages. Because prostate tumors are so slow-growing, many men who are affected by prostate cancer in their fifties or sixties will die of old-age related causes long before this cancer begins to pose any problems. Indeed, the five-year survival rate for this cancer is more than 99 percent, indicating the relative lack of urgency when it comes to treatment. However, you may still have questions about your treatment options and can wonder about the best way to proceed. Read on to learn more about the choices that await you.
For some early-stage prostate cancer, the best treatment is no treatment at all--simply periodic checkups with your oncologist to ensure the cancer hasn't begun to grow more rapidly or change in other ways. By monitoring your tumor and your white blood cell count, your oncologist can help live a worry-free life without having to undergo surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or other invasive treatments.
Watchful waiting can often be the best option if you're already over age 65 and your tumor is small; because of the slow growth rate of most prostate tumors, it may be likely that you'll never need further treatment.
If your prostate tumor is pressing against other organs or is growing more quickly than your oncologist feels comfortable with, surgical removal may be your next option. This involves a surgical procedure where the tumor is excised with a scalpel (or, in some cases, a laser beam). Depending upon the amount of the tumor your surgeons are able to remove and the speed at which these cancer cells were multiplying, your oncologist may recommend you follow up this surgery with a round of chemotherapy or radiation to ensure your cancer is fully eradicated.
Because the side effects of surgery can range from incontinence to impotence, it's important to talk this treatment over with your spouse before committing to a decision that may affect you both.
Chemotherapy or Radiation
One set of options that can be implemented in lieu of (or after) surgery is chemotherapy and radiation. These treatments are designed to kill cancer cells that may remain after a surgical excision--or, in other cases, to shrink tumors that are too large or too delicately located for surgeons to remove manually.
Like surgery, these treatments can have some significant side effects, so you'll want to discuss the pros and cons with your oncologist from a place like Advanced Urology Associates and your spouse before you make your final choice.