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Prostate Cancer Treatment

From Watchful Waiting to Prostatectomy

Depending on several factors, prostate cancer treatment options can range from “watchful waiting” (monitoring of the tumor) to radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland). Determining factors may include age and general health of the patient, stage and grade of the cancer, physical symptoms and an evaluation of the side effects associated with the different procedures, among others.

Radiation therapy, cryotherapy, and hormone therapy are several other possible prostate cancer treatment options. Since each alternative offers potential benefits and risks, it is critical to consider all aspects before making this important decision. Keep in mind that recommendation for prostatectomy is positive because it means that the cancer was caught early and that complete recovery is possible.

We have outlined many of the available treatment options in our video series Prostate 101.

Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

There are several options for treatment of prostate cancer. There is not one “best treatment” that applies to everybody. Each treatment must be individualized. Here’s a list of the options:

Active Surveillance/Observation: Formerly called “watchful waiting,” which includes more-frequent testing to stay on top of the progress of the disease

Surgical Options:

  • Open Prostatectomy: Traditional surgery to remove the prostate
  • Laparoscopic Prostatectomy: Using special tools through small incisions to remove the prostate
  • Robotic-Assisted Radical Prostatectomy: Combination of laporoscopic tools and precision robotic technology to assist surgeon
  • Cryotherapy: Using the extremely cold temperatures produced by liquid nitrogen or argon gas to eradicate abnormal tissue

Radiation Options:

  • External Beam Radiation (Conformational RT, IMRT, Proton Beam RT): Very precise methods of applying radiation therapy
  • Brachytherapy: Putting radioactive “seeds” directly in the prostate
  • Hormone Therapy: Used to prevent the production and use of androgens. While not curative, hormones prevent the tumor from growing and are used in conjunction with radiation or surgery.
  • HIFU (High Intensity-Focused Ultrasound): Uses focused sound waves to create extreme heat at a focal point to destroy abnormal tissue. 

These options should be discussed with your urologist. Please see our Prostate 101 video series for a further explanation of some of these treatment options.