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 do not die from it. A cure is not guaranteed, but treatment can often keep the cancer under control. Your healthcare team will advise a plan of treatment. This plan depends on many factors, such as your age and general health. It also includes how fast the cancer is growing and if it has spread. Talk with your healthcare team about your options.

Your healthcare team

Many healthcare providers will assist you in your care. They include:

  • A urologist. This is a doctor who treats and performs 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 medicine.

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

  • Your primary doctor. This doctor refers you to the right specialists. Your doctor also watches your general health and coordinates the care given by all the specialists.

Choosing the best treatment

Your treatment options are based on the grade and stage of the cancer, as well as your health and personal preferences. Your healthcare team will talk with you about your choices and find what is best for you. Your choices may include:

  • Active surveillance. You may not need treatment at this time. This depends on the grade and stage of the cancer. It also depends on your age and general health, as well as your personal preferences. Your health care team will watch your health. They will decide when you will need follow-up exams or biopsies. They will then schedule treatment at a later date if needed.

  • Treating to cure. If the cancer is detected at an early stage, the chance of full recovery is good. Early-stage cancer can often be cured by removing it with surgery. Or it can be destroyed with radiation.

  • Treating to control. Late-stage cancer often can’t be cured. But it may be controlled to slow down the growth and provide a reasonable quality of life (palliative care). 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 the future. These may include new types of surgery. They may include radiation techniques, focal therapies, or new medicines. Your healthcare team can tell you if any of these might be right for you. Ask the members of your team if you qualify to be treated as part of a clinical trial. A clinical trial uses research to study new treatments or therapies.