Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen
Additions/comments by Urologist Steven N. Gange, MD
Prostate cancer is perhaps one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in men. In fact, the National Cancer Institute estimates that about 1 out of every 5 men will be diagnosed with it in their lifetimes. The good news is that for such a commonly found cancer, there are a variety of treatment options that have become standard procedure when treating prostate cancer.
If you are asymptomatic or perhaps if you’ve developed prostate cancer at a super early stage, your doctor may take a wait-and-see approach. They’ll survey and monitor the situation and only decide on a plan of treatment when deemed necessary. Your doctor may decide that surgery is the route to take, as chances are they’ll be able to completely remove the cancer. Radiation therapy is another option that might be suggested; it is non-invasive and fights the cancer by completely changing its DNA. But the risk is that this may also damage your perfectly good and healthy cells, so there must also be a treatment plan to combat those effects. In addition to these therapies, other common therapies for prostate cancer are discussed below.
Hormone therapy is another non-invasive way to treat prostate cancer. Hormone therapy is used when the cancer is too aggressive or widespread for either radiation therapy or surgery. If those aren’t options for you for whatever reason, or if you’re at a higher risk for the cancer to come back, hormone therapy could be used before attempting radiation or surgery to make those treatments more effective. It works by reducing the amount of androgens available that act as fuel for the cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is possibly the most well-known cancer treatment. Cancer cells tend to grow quite quickly, and chemotherapy works by using chemicals to try and shoot down those cells faster than they can grow. Like radiation, this therapy can also have some undesirable side effects, so one should have a treatment plan in place to fight those.
Immunotherapy & Bisphosphonate Therapy
Immunotherapy, as its name implies, is a method that boosts your body’s own immune system to allow it to better target and fight against the cancer. Finally, bisphosphonate therapy is used in conjunction with other types of treatment to prevent or slow down the bone thinning that can happen as a result of those treatments.
When it comes to cancer treatment, research is always ongoing to help improve people’s chances against this deadly disease.
Case in point: in 2017 a new drug called Zytiga was approved in Germany for men diagnosed with high-risk metastatic prostate cancer. Specifically, this is for the group for whom treatment with hormone blockers is possible. When prostate cancer has metastasized (spread to other parts of your body), complete, full recovery is often not possible. However, hormone therapy works by limiting the cancer’s access to what’s feeding it–which in this case is androgens, such as testosterone. In this case, Zytiga is combined with prednisone and/or androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT). Zytig enhances the androgen blocking by stopping its production in locations other than your testicles to prevent the growth of tumors.
Available in pill form, there are two different options for doses. Generally, 1,000 mg must be taken once a day between meals. It is wise to monitor your symptoms because any serious side effects may require you to stop this particular treatment.
Even in someone with metastatic cancer, Zytiga has been shown to prolong life in men who have taken it. If you fall under the category of someone who can take hormone therapy treatment, your doctor may suggest this as a treatment option for you.
- Prostate Cancer—Patient Version
- Prostate Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version
- Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer
- Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer
- Understanding Immunotherapy
- Bisphosphonates and cancer
- Abiraterone acetate (Zytiga) for the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer: Overview