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How Is Prostate Cancer Treated?

Different types of treatment are available for prostate cancer. You and your doctor will decide which treatment is right for you. Some common treatments are—

  • Active surveillance. Closely monitoring the prostate cancer by performing prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam (DRE) tests regularly, and treating the cancer only if it grows or causes symptoms.
  • Surgery. A prostatectomy is an operation where doctors remove the prostate. Radical prostatectomy removes the prostate as well as the surrounding tissue.
  • Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer. There are two types of radiation therapy—
    • External radiation therapy. A machine outside the body directs radiation at the cancer cells.
    • Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy). Radioactive seeds or pellets are surgically placed into or near the cancer to destroy the cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy. Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.

Other therapies used in the treatment of prostate cancer that are still under investigation include—

  • Cryotherapy. Placing a special probe inside or near the prostate cancer to freeze and kill the cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy. Using special drugs to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given through your veins, or, sometimes, both.
  • Biological therapy. Works with your body's immune system to help it fight cancer or to control side effects from other cancer treatments. Side effects are how your body reacts to drugs or other treatments.
  • High-intensity focused ultrasound. This therapy directs high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) at the cancer to kill cancer cells.

For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) Prostate Cancer Treatment Option Overview. This site can also help you find a doctor or treatment facility that works in cancer care. Visit Facing Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment for more information about treatment and links that can help with treatment choices.

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