Treatment Options for Early Stage Prostate Cancer
Early stage, or localized, prostate cancer refers to cancer that is still confined to the prostate – either Stage I or Stage II. If you have been diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer you will be able to chose which kind of treatment is best for you. You do have time to do the research you need to make the right decision for you. Consider including those you love and respect as part of your journey, as they can provide, support, insight, and help. Some prostate cancer treatment options may impact your sexual function so it is important to be open and honest with your partner. Ask your doctor questions and try to talk to other men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
In ZERO’s annual survey more than half (54%) of the patient/survivors had support when making a treatment decision from someone not on their medical team (wife, partner, friend, etc.). Of those, nearly all (80%) were a wife/spouse/partner.
Most men with early stage prostate cancer have several treatment options. To learn more about the treatment options here, visit our treatment section. The most common treatment options for early stage, or localized, prostate cancer include:
- Active Surveillance is the close monitoring of the status of your prostate cancer through regular office visits and repeat medical tests, such as the PSA test and the prostate biopsy.
- Surgery usually involves a radical prostatectomy, which is the removal of the entire prostate by a surgeon.
- Radiation therapy uses radiation to destroy the cancer cells in the prostate while leaving the prostate in the body.
While all prostate cancer treatment can have side effects, the most common side effects of surgery and radiation are erectile dysfunction (loss of erections) and urinary incontinence (leaking urine). It is important to talk with your doctor to understand potential side effects of each treatment option available to you.
What is focal therapy for prostate cancer?
Focal therapy is a broad term used to describe a variety of noninvasive techniques for targeting and destroying small tumors inside the prostate while sparing the normal tissue. Focal therapy uses energy sources to generate extreme temperatures that help destroy the tumors. Currently available to prostate cancer patients include:
- HIFU, or high intensity focused ultrasound, uses heat to kill the prostate cancer cells. At this time, HIFU is not approved by the FDA for treatment of prostate cancer in the U.S.
- Cryotherapy is the freezing of the tumor to destroy the cancer cells.
- Focal laser ablation (currently available only in clinical trials)
Focal therapy is often considered a treatment option for prostate cancer patients whose cancer is confined to the prostate (has not metastasized outside the prostate) and whose cancer is visible using imaging scans. Most importantly, focal therapy is thought to “bridge the gap” between radical prostatectomy and active surveillance treatment options.
Advantages to focal therapy include:
- Improved accuracy of treatment
- Reduced urinary and sexual function side effects
- Increased likelihood of preserving normal prostate tissue and function
- Often performed as an outpatient therapy
Researchers in clinical trials are working to better understand which prostate cancer patients are the best candidates for focal therapy and how long patients remain disease-free after treatment.
Watch our medical experts discuss treatment options for early stage prostate cancer.
Treatment for You
Your treatment options will depend on many factors most importantly the characteristics of your cancer, including stage, grade and risk category. Other factors that are unique to you include:
- Other health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or other chronic conditions
- Previous prostate surgery
- Your personal preference
Before deciding on a treatment, consider a second opinion
Asking for a second opinion is common practice. Gathering more knowledge about your diagnosis and the available treatment options may help you feel more comfortable with the decisions you make.
At ZERO we suggest that any many diagnosed with prostate cancer consider having a consultation with a medical oncologist before making treatment decisions, particularly if you have high risk disease. While your treatment will most likely be managed by a urologist or radiation oncologist, meeting with a medical oncologist will help you to have a full picture of all treatment options available to you. This is especially important should your cancer return at some point in the future.
WEBINAR: Treatment Options for Localized Prostate Cancer
Learn how to balance treatment effectiveness, side effects, convenience, and costs. This webinar from 2016 featured urologic surgeon Dr. Kelvin Moses and radiation oncologist Dr. Eric Shinohara, both from Vanderbilt University Cancer Center, and was hosted by ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer.