Prostate Cancer: Multiple Treatment Options Available
Roughly one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. But how should men stay vigilant and prepared?
Physicians recommend that men begin annual prostate screening exams at the age of 50. However, men with higher risk of prostate cancer, including African-Americans and men with a family history of this disease, should begin screening in their 40s, says Geoffrey Box, MD, urologic surgeon at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). Men should discuss screening for prostate cancer with their physician.
Screening includes a prostate exam by the physician, as well as a blood test called a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). Findings from the exam are used to determine risk of prostate cancer.
Understand Treatment Options
Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer have a form localized to the prostate. For these men, several treatment options, including observation, radiation therapy and surgery.
“It’s important to remember that there's no such thing as a routine prostate cancer,” Box says. “Treatment is individualized for each patient.”
Many prostate cancers are not aggressive and are unlikely to have any impact on a man's life. For these types of cancers, physicians often recommend observation, or active surveillance, which involves following the patient’s prostate cancer carefully and initiating treatment should it show any signs of being a more aggressive type.
In other cases, physicians may recommend that prostate cancer patients undergo radiation therapy, which involves either directing radiation to the prostate from the outside the body or implanting small radioactive pellets into the prostate gland.
Patients may also opt for surgical removal of the prostate via one of two approaches: open surgery, which requires a several-inch incision in the lower abdomen, or minimally invasive robotic surgery, which requires several very small incisions performed with the assistance of a surgical robot. The robot is used by the surgeon as a tool to improve precision and provide patients with additional benefits not available with open surgery.
Compared with open surgery, robotic surgery results in less blood loss and a speedier recovery. “The robotic approach gives us precision and vision that you just can't get with the open approach,” Box says.
For more information on prostate cancer treatment options, visit cancer.osu.edu.