There are three different types of treatment for
prostate cancer: Hormonal treatments, a radical prostatectomy, and
radiotherapy. Here’s more about each of these treatments.
The basis of all these different treatments is that it
deprives the prostate of testosterone, a hormone that is needed for prostate
cancer to develop and grow. Testosterone deprivation does, however, have side
effects such as erectile dysfunction, breast enlargement and an increased risk
Once prostate cancer has grown beyond the prostate, the
results of these treatments are poor, but they can certainly slow down the
growth of the cancer.
testicles. This is known as surgical castration. This is usually seen as a
last resort because of the psychological impact this procedure could have.
These are hormonal injections that are given regularly to stop the production
of testosterone in the testicles. They are effective, but costly.
hormones can be taken daily to stop testosterone production. Their side effects
include an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
These only block the androgen receptors, not testosterone production, so that
the testosterone levels are maintained in the bloodstream.
Read: Treatment for prostate cancer may cause infertility
This involves the removal of the prostate and the
surrounding structures. This is very effective as long as the prostate cancer
is still localised and provides the best chance of a cure (70 – 80%) for early
prostate cancer. The side effects of a radical prostatectomy can, however, be
unpleasant. These include possible erectile dysfunction, incontinence.
As this is a slow-growing cancer, this procedure is not
recommended for patients with a life expectancy of less than ten years. Younger
men, while they stand to gain freedom from prostate cancer by means of this
procedure, also stand a greater chance of suffering from the long-term side
effects of erectile dysfunction and incontinence.
There are two types of radiotherapy that can be used to
combat prostate cancer: external beam therapy, or radiotherapy delivered by
means of radioactive seeds (brachytherapy) planted into the prostate.
Brachytherapy carries the lowest risk of complications and
is used very effectively to combat prostate cancer in its early stages.
External beam radiotherapy uses X-rays to kill the cancer
cells on the prostate. These beams can, however, also destroy healthy tissue in
the surrounding areas. This treatment is not painful, and is given five days a
week for two months. Erectile dysfunction and bowel problems are possible side
Preventing prostate cancer
Causes of prostate cancer
Symptoms of prostate cancer
Sources: Health24; cancer.org; urologyhealth.org;