Prostate Cancer: Making a Treatment Plan

Man talking with health care provider in exam room.

Being told that you have cancer can be scary. But most men who have prostate cancer don't die from it. Even when prostate cancer can't be cured, treatment can often keep it under control. Your healthcare team will talk with you about your treatment plan. This plan depends on many things, such as how much cancer there is, where it is, your age, and your overall health. Talk with your healthcare team about your options so you can make the decision that's best for you.

Your healthcare team

Many healthcare providers will be part of your care. You may work with:

  • A urologist. This is a doctor who treats and does surgery on the urinary system and the male reproductive system.

  • A radiation oncologist. This is a doctor who treats cancer with radiation.

  • A medical oncologist. This is a doctor who treats cancer with medicines.

  • A nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA). This is a person who may do exams and manage your follow-up care.

  • Your primary healthcare provider. This doctor refers you to the right specialists. He or she also watches your general health and any other health problems you might have.

Choosing the best treatment

Your treatment options are based on:

  • How fast the cancer is growing (the grade)

  • How far it has spread (the stage)

  • Your health

  • Your feelings about the side effects of each treatment

Your treatment choices may include:

  • Active surveillance. You may not need treatment right away. Your healthcare team will watch you closely. You will get regular follow-up exams, blood tests, or biopsies. Treatment can be started later if the cancer starts to get worse.

  • Treating to cure. If the cancer is found at an early stage (when it's small and only in the prostate), the chance of full recovery is good. Early-stage cancer can often be cured by removing it with surgery. Or radiation can be used to kill the cancer cells.

  • Treating to control. Late-stage cancer often can’t be cured. But it may be controlled to slow growth and help you live longer and feel as well as you can. Methods for control might include surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, vaccine therapy, and chemotherapy.

New treatment options

New treatments for prostate cancer may be available in clinical trials. Your healthcare team can tell you if any of these might be right for you. Ask the team members if you qualify to be treated as part of a clinical trial. A clinical trial uses research to study new treatments or therapies.

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