Additional Prostate Cancer Treatment Choices
Hormone Therapy – Hormone therapy is sometimes used to treat patients with higher risk early-stage prostate cancer, along with surgery or radiation. Most commonly it is used as a treatment option for advanced prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Hormone therapy is most often given as an injection every three or four months and is designed to deprive cancer cells of the male hormones they need to grow and survive. Sometimes, instead of using these drugs, patients undergo surgery to remove the testes to shut down testosterone production. Side effects of treatment may include loss of sexual function or impotence, hot flashes, loss of sexual desire, weight gain, breast enlargement, and thinning of bones.
Cryotherapy – Cryotherapy, or cryosurgery, is a method of freezing the tumor to destroy prostate cancer cells. Cryotherapy may be used to treat early-stage prostate cancer and is sometimes combined with hormone therapy. It can also be used to treat residual tumor in the prostate following radiation therapy. Potential side effects of this therapy may include injury to the urethra, bladder and rectum, lack of sexual function or impotence, and loss of bladder control.
HIFU – HIFU, or high-intensity focused ultrasound, is the opposite of cryotherapy. It is a method of killing prostate cells by heating them up. HIFU may be used as an alternative to surgery or radiation, or may be tried if other methods have failed. Like cryotherapy, HIFU may result in injury to the urethra and bladder, lack of sexual function or impotence, and loss of bladder control. HIFU is considered experimental treatment and is not approved by the FDA to treat patients in the US.
Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is an option for patients with advanced prostate cancer. This treatment uses powerful chemical agents to kill growing cancer cells. You may receive chemotherapy in a clinic, at your doctor’s office, or at home. The sides effects depend mainly on the type and quantity of drug given, and may include loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, hair loss, diarrhea, infertility and increased risk of infection and fatigue. Most of these problems go away when treatment ends.
Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy, also known as a cancer vaccine, may be used to treat patients with advanced prostate cancer who are no longer helped by hormone therapy. Immunotherapy works by stimulating your immune system to kill cancer cells. The treatment is made using your own blood cells and involves several injections over a six-week period. The most common side effects are headache, backache, fatigue, and fever and chills. These side effects are generally temporary.