While some prostrate cancers are extremely aggressive and need to be treated, others grow slowly.
If a patient’s prostate cancer is slow growing, it may not require immediate treatment and an active surveillance approach may be taken. This option could be taken if a patient is over 70, as the cancer is unlikely to develop quickly enough to cause a problem in his lifetime, or if treatment side effects would impact greatly on quality of life. Patients under 70 may opt for treatment at a later stage if the cancer grows.
Surgery is an option if a patient has early-stage prostate cancer, is fit for surgery, expects to live for longer than 10 years and has not yet had radiotherapy. The surgeon generally removes the prostate in a radical prostatectomy procedure, as well as surrounding tissue. A sample of the lymph nodes in nearby tissue may be taken to determine whether the cancer has spread.
Prostate cancer needs the male hormone, testosterone, to grow and by slowing its production through hormone treatment, the cancer can be slowed. Hormone treatment involves injections of luteinising hormone-releasing hormone, which cannot cure the cancer.
Several kinds of radiotherapy, which allow high doses with minimum affects on nearby tissues, can be used to treat prostrate cancer.
If the cancer cannot be cured, palliative treatments for pain and other problems may involve radiotherapy, chemotherapy and pain-relieving medications.