Prostate cancer, the most common type of cancer in males over the age of 50, has many treatment options available through the field of urology. If you or your spouse has this condition, you should learn all you can about the effectiveness, risks, and potential side effects of the various treatments offered to you.
Because many prostate cancers grow quite slowly, some doctors will recommend that their patients wait to pursue treatment. This is known as watchful waiting. While they are waiting, patients will be carefully monitored by the urology department at their clinic or hospital. This allows the doctor to take action if the cancer begins to grow.
Radiation destroys prostate cancer from the inside out. To treat prostate cancer, your urologist will place tiny radioactive particles, or seeds, inside the prostate gland. As these seeds send radiation into the tissue, it then destroys the gland and its cancer. Sometimes the seeds lose their radioactive nature, and they remain inside the body for the reminder of the patients life.
Some urology clinics will treat prostate cancer through external radiation. This destroys the cancer cells by sending radiation into the body from an external source. Both work in the same way, and your doctor will determine which treatment is the best option for your cancer based on where it is located and how big it is.
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, or HIFU, is a reliably new player in the urology field. This treatment destroys prostatic tissue with the power of ultrasound waves. Some of the technology involved is still in investigational trials in the United States.
Prostate cancer can also be destroyed with microwaves. This treatment involves heating and destroying the tissue using microwaves. To protect the other tissue in the area, a cooling catheter will be placed in the urethra. Microwave treatment is commonly called transurethral microwave therapy, or TUMT.
The surgical removal of the prostate gland, or prostectomy, is one of the oldest treatment options. In theory, removing the gland should remove all of the cancer. However, because of the close proxies of the organs around the gland, surgery has a high risk of side effects like incontinence and impotence.
Cryosurgery destroys the prostate gland by freezing it. The tissue is frozen and then quickly thawed twice. This process robs the cancer cells of critical blood flow, killing them. No blood is lost during cryosurgery and it involves no radiation. These two factors reduce some of the risks associated with other urology treatments for prostate cancer.
Remember, no treatment will be completely risk free. Talk to your doctor about your options before choosing the best treatment for your cancer.