Prostate cancer treatment has several approaches. If you have been diagnosed early, your options will be different compared to patients who are diagnosed with advanced-stage prostate cancer.
The goals also differ between treatment for localized cancer (cancer that has not spread outside the prostate), regional cancer (spread outside the prostate but still near the organ), and distant cancer (advancing to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes). Early-stage prostate cancer treatment may be curative, but late-stage prostate cancer treatment focuses on improving symptoms only.
Let’s talk about the different treatments for prostate cancer and how they impact life expectancy.
Active Surveillance or Watchful Waiting
A very common option for patients with stage I and stage II prostate cancer is active surveillance or watchful waiting. Active surveillance involves monitoring the disease through regular checks, whereas watchful waiting is a less intensive approach where doctors rely on symptoms to determine if treatment is needed.
Research from Switzerland shows the life expectancy of patients who received treatment for stage I and stage II prostate cancer and those who did active surveillance only did not make a difference to the five-year survival rate.
Radiation therapy is often recommended for patients with stage II to IV prostate cancer. This treatment involves several weeks of radiation exposure to target and kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy has a cure rate of 95.5% and a 98.8% five-year survival rate.
Stage IV prostate cancer that spreads to the lymph nodes is usually treated with chemotherapy, which involves taking drugs that aim to kill cancer cells. Some drugs can increase life expectancy to up to four years, especially when combined with hormone therapy.
Hormone therapy is a treatment for advanced prostate cancer and aims to control the release of androgens, which fuel prostate cancer growth. Hormone therapy, when combined with chemotherapy, can add two to three years to life expectancy, sometimes even longer.
A radical prostatectomy, which involves the partial or complete removal of the prostate gland, is usually an option for patients with stage I to stage III cancer. This treatment method is often offered to patients with a 10-year life expectancy. Radical prostatectomy is often followed by radiation therapy. According to a randomized study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, this method can increase life expectancy up to 2.9 years.
Other treatments, such as clinical trials and immunotherapy, may be available to you depending on your stage and symptoms. An important consideration for prostate cancer treatment is how it will affect your quality of life. Both radiation therapy and prostatectomy cause short-term and long-term side effects.
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment approach with your doctor. You may be surprised to learn about all of the great treatment options available to you.
Prostate Cancer Treatment in Phoenix, AZ
We recommend getting screened for prostate cancer at regular intervals beginning at the age of 40, especially if prostate cancer runs in your family. The earlier prostate cancer is diagnosed, the less invasive the treatments and the better it is for your life expectancy.
Dr. Desiderio Avila at Ironwood Urology can help you stay on top of your prostate health. Dr. Avila uses the latest screening tools to diagnose prostate cancer in early stages.
If prostate cancer is found, Dr. Avila will explain your diagnosis, refer you to the right specialists, and coordinate your care and treatment for prostate cancer. We stay with our patients throughout their treatment and recovery. To schedule an appointment, call our urology clinic at (480) 961-2323 or use our online form.