In general, prostate cancer is treated with either surgery or radiation. All patients with a new diagnosis of prostate cancer should have a thorough consultation with both a Urologist and a Radiation Oncologist to discuss both surgical and radiation options.
It is important to understand that prostate cancer is not just “one disease”, but has many variations and subtypes based on the extent of the disease (or stage), pathologic findings on biopsy (such as the Gleason score), PSA level, etc. Just like no snowflake is alike, no two cases of prostate cancer are alike, and treatment decisions must be individualized for each and every case.
The Urologist and Radiation Oncologist will discuss the risks and benefits to using surgery or radiation, taking into consideration both individual disease parameters, as well as your age and general medical health.
In general, early stage prostate cancer can be cured with equal effectiveness using either surgery or radiation therapy (provided that the radiation therapy uses state-of-the-art technologies, as older technologies may be less effective). For this reason, there is not necessarily a “right” or “wrong” decision, and patients, along with their physicians and families, need to weigh the risks and benefits of every treatment and can choose one that they feel most comfortable with.
More advanced or aggressive prostate cancers (such as a Gleason score of 7 or higher, or a PSA of 10 or higher) may be better treated with radiation, since it can encompass a larger area than surgery can. Sometimes hormone therapy is used in conjunction with radiation in these cases to enhance the effect of the radiation.
There are other “experimental” treatments which remain experimental, and should not be considered until 10 year data becomes available (since there is not enough data to prove that in the long run they will be as effective as radiation or surgery which have decades of proven data). To learn more about experimental or other treatment radiation technologies, click here.
Information for this section was graciously provided by the physicians and staff of Advanced Radiation Centers of New York. For more information, view Web MD‘s prostate cancer treatment resources.
*IMF does not endorse any course of treatment for men with prostate cancer or other medical conditions. Treatment decisions should be made by a patient in collaboration with his health care providers.