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The Best Prostate Cancer Treatment for Each Type of Patient

Aug 17, 2007
Whether a therapeutic technique is the best prostate cancer treatment for a patient depends on various factors. In selecting the treatment, a patient and his doctor should take into consideration the patient's age and expected life span, the stage and grade of the cancer, possible side effects and other health problems that the patient might have.

One of the best prostate cancer treatment techniques, particularly for older men and those who suffer from other serious illnesses, is the expectant management or watchful waiting method. Watchful waiting involves the close monitoring of the cancer through prostate specific antigen testing. It does not involve active treatments like surgery and radiation therapy and is recommended mostly to those who have no symptoms. It is also used when the cancer is contained within one area of the prostate gland and is expected to grow very slowly.

Another option available to prostate cancer patients is surgery. This can be radical retropubic prostatectomy, radical perineal prostatectomy, laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP) or transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). In retropubic prostatectomy, the surgeon makes an incision in the lower abdomen to remove the prostate gland. Lymph nodes around the prostate might also be removed depending on whether the cancer has spread to these parts. In perineal prostatectomy, the incision is made in the perineum or the skin between anus and scrotum. This procedure is use less often because the lymph nodes cannot be removed and there is a high probability that the nerves will be affected.

LRP, on the other hand, involves the use of several smaller incisions and specialized instruments. This highly complex procedure is known for its high precision and control. In the hands of experienced surgeons, it becomes an advantageous option compared with retropubic and perineal prostatectomy. TURP, meanwhile, makes use of an instrument called a resectoscope which is passed through the end of the penis into the urethra at the level of the prostate. The electricity that passes through the instrument cuts or vaporizes the issue in the prostate. TURP is done to relieve symptoms and is also used for benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Radiation therapy is the method in which high-energy rays or particles are used to kill cancer cells. This, like surgical procedures, is another example of a highly developed method of dealing with cancer. Radiation therapy is classified into two main types, the external beam radiation therapy (ERBT) and brachytherapy.

In treating localized prostate cancer, a procedure called crysosurgery is sometimes used. It involves the freezing of the tissues using very cold gases. Aside from cryosurgery, hormone therapy and chemotherapy are also options that prostate cancer patients can explore. Hormone therapy does not cure cancer but is primarily used to lower levels of male hormones in a patient's body. Chemotherapy, meanwhile, is a procedure more commonly used in cases when the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland.

Choosing the best prostate cancer treatment depends on a lot of factors. What is considered appropriate for one patient might not be good for another, that's why options should be discussed in detail with doctors before proceeding to the treatment stage.
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