The concept of active surveillance, or watchful waiting, has increasingly emerged in recent years as a viable option for men who decide not to undergo immediate surgery or radiation therapy.
During active surveillance, prostate cancer is carefully monitored for signs of progression. A PSA blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) are usually administered periodically along with a repeat biopsy of the prostate at one year and then at specific intervals thereafter. If symptoms develop, or if tests indicate the cancer is growing, treatment might be warranted.
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A surgical approach to treating prostate cancer will remove all or part of the prostate. Typically, men with early-stage disease or cancer that’s confined to the prostate will undergo radical prostatectomy—removal of the entire prostate gland, plus some surrounding tissue. Other surgical procedures may be performed on men with advanced or recurrent disease.
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Radiation involves the killing of cancer cells and surrounding tissues with directed radioactive exposure. Some forms of radiation therapy can also be used in men with advanced or recurrent prostate cancer.
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Prostate cancer cells are like other living organisms—they need fuel to grow and survive. Because the hormone testosterone serves as the main fuel for prostate cancer cell growth, it’s a common target for therapeutic intervention in men with the disease.
Hormone therapy, also known as androgen-deprivation therapy or ADT, is designed to stop testosterone from being released or to prevent it from acting on the prostate cells. Although hormone therapy plays an important role in men with advancing prostate cancer, it is increasingly being used before, during, or after local treatment as well.
The majority of cells in prostate cancer tumors respond to the removal of testosterone. But some cells grow independent of testosterone and remain unaffected by hormone therapy. As these hormone-independent cells continue to grow unchecked, hormone therapies have less and less of an effect on the growth of the tumor over time.
For this reason, hormone therapy is not a perfect strategy in the fight against prostate cancer, and it does not cure the disease. It also carries some unwanted toxicities. But it remains an important step in the process of managing advancing disease, and it will likely be a part of every man’s therapeutic regimen at some point during his fight against recurrent or advanced prostate cancer.
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The term "chemotherapy" refers to any type of therapy that uses chemicals to kill or halt the growth of cancer cells. The drugs work in a variety of ways, but are all based on the same simple principle: stop the cells from dividing and you stop the growth and spread of the tumor.
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Many men understand that when prostate cancer is caught early, it can be treated effectively, and the primary treatment options for localized disease are all excellent choices. However, many men also have significant concerns about the side effects of these treatments.
It is important to understand how and why these effects occur, and to learn how you can minimize their impact on your daily life.
Side effects typically associated with prostate cancer treatments:
• Urinary Dysfunction
• Bowel Dysfunction
• Erectile Dysfunction
• Loss of Fertility
• Side Effects of Hormone Therapy
• Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Depending on the treatment strategy used, some or all of these effects might be present. It’s also important to realize that not all symptoms are normal, and that some require immediate care. It’s important to stay in close contact with your doctor and ask questions about every stage of your treatment. For more information on side effects visit ProstateCancer.ca.
• Prostate Cancer Canada: Covering everything from the basis of prostate cancer to support post treatment. Updates on research and survivorship programs, news and events.
• Answering Your Questions: Understanding prostate cancer may seem overwhelming at first. In this document, PCC explains the basics: the who, what, where, when and why of prostate cancer.
• Treatments: This document provides information about different treatments for prostate cancer including what to expect and any risks and side effects.
• Care and Support: Prostate cancer affects more than your physical health, it also takes a toll on your emotional well-being. Support, communication and understanding are all very important at this time in your lift. This document is intended to help both the cancer patient and their family/loved ones.
• Follow Up: This resource is all about post-treatment care, what happens after treatment and how to start to bring your life back to what it was before. This resource provides information to help recovery whether that be fatigue, nutrition and physical activity after prostate cancer and more.