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Treating Prostate Cancer and Clinical Trials

Many Options To Consider And Sources Of Support

Different types of treatment are available for prostate cancer. You and your doctor will decide which treatment is right for you. Some common treatments are:

Active surveillance. Closely monitoring the prostate cancer by performing prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam (DRE) tests regularly, and treating the cancer only if it grows or causes symptoms.

Surgery. A prostatectomy is an operation where doctors remove the prostate. Radical prostatectomy removes the prostate as well as the surrounding tissue.

Radiation therapy. Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer. There are two types of radiation therapy:

•External radiation therapy. A machine outside the body directs radiation at the cancer cells.

•Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy). Radioactive seeds or pellets are surgically placed into or near the cancer to destroy the cancer cells.

Hormone therapy. Blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.


Other therapies used in the treatment of prostate cancer that are still under investigation include:

  1. Placing a special probe inside or near the prostate cancer to freeze and kill the cancer cells.

Chemotherapy. Using special drugs to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given through your veins, or, sometimes, both.

Biological therapy. Works with your body’s immune system to help it fight cancer or to control side effects from other cancer treatments. Side effects are how your body reacts to drugs or other treatments.

High-intensity focused ultrasound. This therapy directs high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) at the cancer to kill cancer cells.


Choosing Treatment

Choosing the treatment that is right for you may be hard. Talk to your cancer doctor about the treatment options available for your type and stage of cancer. Your doctor can explain the risks and benefits of each treatment and their side effects.

Sometimes people get an opinion from more than one cancer doctor. This is called a “second opinion.” Getting a second opinion may help you choose the treatment that is most suitable for you.


Alternative Medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard medical care. Meditation, yoga, and supplements like vitamins and herbs are some examples. “Complementary medicine” refers to treatments that are used with standard treatment. “Alternative medicine”refers to treatments that are used instead of standard treatment.

Standard treatments are based on scientific evidence from research studies. While claims made by CAM treatment providers about their benefits can sound promising, we do not know how safe many CAM treatments are or how well they work. Studies are under way to determine the safety and usefulness of many cancer-related CAM practices. Talk to your doctor before you start any kind of complementary or alternative medicine.


For more information, visit the website of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and its Prostate Cancer Treatment Option Overview:


This site can also help you find a doctor or treatment facility that works in cancer care. For more information about treatment and links that can help with treatment choices, visit NCI’s website topic, Facing Forward: Life After Cancer:


Clinical Trials

Clinical trials use new treatment options to see if they are safe and effective. If you have cancer, you may want to take part. Visit the sites listed below for more information.


• NIH Clinical Research Trials and You (National Institutes of Health)


•Learn About Clinical Trials (National Cancer Institute)


•Search for Clinical Trials (National Cancer Institute)


•ClinicalTrials.gov (National Institutes of Health)


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