If the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate region, there are a number of different treatment options. For men with small, low risk cancers, active surveillance may be an option. This involves regular testing and biopsies. If the cancer progresses then active treatment is offered.
Other men may choose surgery: radical prostatectomy is an operation designed to remove all of the cancer – the whole prostate gland and some nearby tissue. Surgery may be open or through small openings in the abdomen, assisted by a robot.
Radiotherapy is the other main treatment; different forms of radiotherapy (irradiation of the pelvic area) may be offered, including external beam and/or brachytherapy. Low dose rate brachytherapy is a form of radiotherapy where radioactive ‘seeds’ are left in the prostate gland.
All of these types of treatment may affect potency (the capacity to have erections), urine control (continence) and bowel function. These risks can be quite high – for example up to 70% of men may have sexual function affected following surgery. The risk varies with the type of treatment.
Prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate region is usually no longer curable and can have a greater impact on quality of life.