The best prostate cancer treatment varies depending on a patient’s age, their overall health status, the cancer’s grade and stage, and other factors. Both surgical and non-surgical treatments are available to address prostate cancer, and a urologist provides each patient with a personalized prostate cancer treatment plan.
There are several common prostate cancer treatments used to address stage 1 prostate cancer (i.e. disease still confined to the gland). These include:
- Active Surveillance: Involves regular monitoring of a patient’s prostate cancer measures including PSA over a set amount of time. Active surveillance usually requires a patient to receive rectal examinations and blood tests every six months, as well as an annual prostate biopsy to closely monitor for cancer progression.
- Radiation Therapy: Uses high-energy rays or particles to kill prostate cancer cells. Radiation therapy is commonly used to treat cancer that is still in the prostate gland and is low grade. Or, it may be used as part of an initial treatment for cancer that has spread beyond the prostate gland.
- Radical Prostatectomy: Involves the removal of the entire prostate gland and sometimes surrounding tissues.
The aforementioned treatments may be used to address stage 2 prostate cancer too. Other stage 2 prostate cancer treatments include external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy. External beam radiation therapy involves the use of X-rays, protons, or other high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells. Meanwhile, brachytherapy involves the placement of radioactive seed implants into the prostate gland. Brachytherapy localizes radiation treatment to the prostate and limits its effects on the bladder, rectum, and surrounding organs. Additionally, in some instances, external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy may be used together to treat stage 2 prostate cancer.
External beam radiation therapy, radical prostatectomy, and brachytherapy are among the treatments used to treat stage 3 prostate cancer. Hormone therapy may be used in combination with external beam radiation treatments as well.
Hormone therapy reduces a man’s level of testosterone, a hormone that accelerates the growth of prostate cancer cells. It is generally used to target prostate cancer that spreads beyond the prostate gland.
For older men or men who are dealing with severe medical problems, hormone therapy or active surveillance may be used to treat stage 3 prostate cancer. Hormone therapy and active surveillance are less aggressive than other prostate cancer treatments, and as such, may prove to be viable treatment options for these individuals.
With stage 4 prostate cancer, men may require one or more treatments. Common stage 4 prostate cancer treatments include hormone therapy, external beam radiation therapy, brachytherapy, and radical prostatectomy.
Sometimes, hormone therapy is used in conjunction with chemotherapy to treat stage 4 prostate cancer. Chemotherapy involves the use of anti-cancer drugs that are injected into a vein or give to a patient to take orally. Next, chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.
Stage 4 prostate cancer treatment may also include options designed to alleviate pain and other symptoms such as urinary obstruction. For example, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) helps men address benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. TURP involves the “shaving” and removal of the inner part of the prostate gland that surrounds the urethra, and it enables men to alleviate bleeding, urinary obstruction, and other prostate cancer symptoms.
There is no guarantee that the initial treatment a man uses to address prostate cancer will work. However, a revolutionary prostate cancer treatment is now available that has been shown to help patients address newly diagnosed prostate cancer or cancer that has returned to the prostate – high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU).
HIFU: Here’s What You Need to Know
HIFU involves the use of high-frequency ultrasound waves that are used to heat and destroy cancer cells in the prostate. With HIFU, a surgeon targets cancerous tissues in the prostate and ensures nearby tissues remain intact.
During a HIFU procedure, a surgeon inserts a small probe into the rectum that provides easy access to the prostate gland. Then, the surgeon uses computer imaging to place the probe near the prostate gland. The HIFU probe delivers ultrasound waves to an area that is no bigger than a grain of rice, and the probe heats up to almost 100°C (212°F) in about 3 seconds.
HIFU enables a surgeon to adjust the number of ultrasound waves and their intensity and carefully select the areas that the energy will be applied to (i.e cancer regions). This ensures a surgeon can heat prostate cancer cells until they can no longer survive. It also guarantees ultrasound waves have no effect on tissues outside the treatment zone.
What Types of HIFU Are Available?
Not all HIFU procedures are identical, and a HIFU treatment can be used to target the whole prostate or certain areas of the prostate. There are four common HIFU treatment options:
- Whole Prostate Gland HIFU Therapy: Involves treatment of the entire prostate gland. Whole prostate gland HIFU therapy is performed as an outpatient procedure and takes about 3 hours to complete.
- Partial Prostate Gland HIFU Focal Therapy: Combines HIFU with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) perfusion of the prostate. Partial prostate gland HIFU focal therapy enables patients to address localized cancer that is less than half the volume of the prostate.
- Post Radiation HIFU: Involves treatment of prostate cancer that recurs. Post radiation HIFU has been shown to help patients who have struggled to effectively treat prostate cancer with radiation therapy.
- Post Cryotherapy HIFU: Involves treatment of prostate cancer after cryotherapy, which is used to freeze the prostate with liquid nitrogen. Post cryotherapy HIFU is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that has fewer side effects than those associated with prostate cancer surgeries.
Prior to undergoing HIFU prostate cancer treatment, a patient receives a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, digital rectal examination (DRE), and other tests. Proper prostate cancer screening enables a urologist to provide an accurate patient diagnosis and determine if a patient is eligible for HIFU.
Benefits of HIFU Prostate Cancer Treatment
HIFU is FDA approved, and to date, many men have reaped the benefits of this state-of-the-art prostate cancer treatment. Some of the benefits of using HIFU to treat prostate cancer include:
- Minimally Invasive: HIFU is a targeted ultrasound treatment that does not require a patient to undergo prostate cancer surgery.
- No Hospital Stay Required: HIFU is an outpatient procedure, and patients usually can go home immediately following treatment.
- Fast Procedure: A typical HIFU treatment requires between 1 and 4 hours to complete.
- Quick Recovery: Most patients can return to their normal activities just a few days after a HIFU procedure.
- Limited Side Effects: There is no blood loss due to HIFU, and patients who receive HIFU procedures face reduced risk of erectile, sexual, and urinary side effects in comparison to other prostate cancer treatments.
HIFU is an advanced prostate cancer treatment, and a patient should meet with a urologist prior to a HIFU procedure. During a urological consultation, a prostate cancer patient can learn about the different types of HIFU, the benefits of HIFU procedures, and much more. As a result, a urological consultation enables a prostate cancer patient to learn about all aspects of HIFU and make an informed treatment decision.
Schedule a Prostate Cancer Screening at Comprehensive Urology Today
Comprehensive Urology Medical Group in Los Angeles employs a team of friendly, highly trained urologists, and we are happy to teach prostate cancer patients about HIFU and other treatment options. Our team responds to patients’ prostate cancer concerns and questions and helps them determine the best course of action to address prostate cancer symptoms. This way, we enable patients to address prostate cancer for years to come. To find out more about our prostate cancer treatment options, please contact us today or call us at (310) 499-2756 to schedule a consultation with one of our urologists.