After a prostate cancer diagnosis, choosing an appropriate treatment path can be incredibly stressful for you and your loved ones. Further complicating the problem is that unlike many other forms of cancer, there are several ways that prostate cancer can be treated. These treatment options are generally made based on the aggressiveness of the cancer and the likelihood that the cancer may be fatal.
A final treatment decision should be made only after careful consideration with a physician. Ultimately, the decision lies with the man and his family.
Men with prostate cancer that is not considered to be aggressive may be safely monitored using Active Surveillance. While it is normal to feel some unease with choosing to just watch your cancer, Active Surveillance is the recommended management option for most men with lower risk cancers.
One form of treatment
Men with more aggressive tumors should undergo treatment. The type and intensity (magnitude) of the treatment is usually tailored to the potential risk of the disease. The most common forms of treatment include surgical removal of the prostate, radiation therapy and hormonal therapy. When single modality therapy is chosen, additional therapies may be considered later if the cancer should return.
Two or more forms of treatment
Men with very aggressive cancer may be offered multimodal therapy. Multimodality therapy employs two or more therapies planned at the treatment onset. National cancer guidelines offer suggestions as to which may be a more appropriate treatment option based on the patient’s risk and potential outcomes of the treatment. However, appropriate risk classification is very important in this decision and this actual risk assessment can be very difficult to make.
The final decision on whether to use a single or a multimodality therapy is a shared decision between the patient and the physician and is based on the perceived aggressiveness of the disease, the outcomes of the treatment, potential side effects of treatment or treatments and, of course, how the patient and his family want to proceed.
Up to 1 in 61 men with prostate cancer have a genetic mutation that may have caused their cancer. Germline hereditary cancer or genetic testing is the only way to identify this risk. Your personalized results can directly impact current and future treatment decisions. Your results can also provide your family with peace of mind by informing them of their risk of developing hereditary cancers in the future.