If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you can have confidence in the care provided through the Sentara Cancer Network. Our multi-disciplinary team approach brings together the right team of experts with the right technology to design a care plan that is personalized to your needs.
Every step of the way, you can rely on experienced professionals to guide you through what comes next. Your team will offer resources, advice and will be there to answer any questions you may have. As you battle cancer, you won’t be alone in your fight.
Prostate cancer treatment options depend on a number of factors, such as how fast the cancer is growing, how far it has spread, a patient’s overall health, age, as well as the benefits and potential side effects of treatment.
Because prostate cancer is usually slow growing, men who are diagnosed when their cancer is in its earliest stages might not need treatment at all. Instead, doctors sometimes recommend what’s called watchful waiting or active surveillance. If a patient chooses watchful waiting they will usually undergo regular follow-up blood tests, rectal exams and possibly biopsies to monitor the progression of the cancer.
Watchful waiting may be an option for cancer that isn't causing symptoms, is expected to grow very slowly and is confined to a small area of the prostate. Watchful waiting may also be considered for a man who has another serious health condition or an advanced age that makes cancer treatment more difficult.
A patient may be inclined to consider active surveillance over treatments that are likely to cause major side effects, or if he is younger and otherwise healthy, he might be more willing to tolerate the side effects of treatment if they offer the best chance for cure.
Treatment may include:
Surgery to remove the prostate is most commonly an option for men with early prostate cancer where the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate gland. It is sometimes also an option for men with Stage 3 or 4 prostate cancer and can involve removing the two appendages attached to the under surface of the prostate called the seminal vesicles, as well as the lymph nodes which drain the prostate. This surgery is called radical prostatectomy.
Radiation therapy is often used as the initial treatment for low-grade cancer that has not spread outside of the prostate or that only has spread to nearby tissue. Radiation therapy also may be used after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that are still present in the area or come back (recur) after surgery. In later stages of prostate cancer, radiation treatment may be used to help relieve pain when cancer has spread to the bone.
Hormone Therapy & Chemotherapy
Hormone therapy is used to lessen or eliminate the supply of male hormones in the body in an effort to stop or slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. A man with prostate cancer may have hormone therapy before, during or after radiation therapy. Hormone therapy is also used alone for prostate cancer that has returned after treatment.
Chemotherapy may be used for prostate cancer that has spread and no longer responds to hormone therapy. It is not a standard treatment for early prostate cancer and is unlikely to cure a patient of cancer. Chemotherapy may also be an option for cancers that don't respond to hormone therapy. This treatment is used to slow the growth of cancer and reduce symptoms to improve a patient’s quality of life.
Whenever possible, Sentara Cancer Network physicians offer patients the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial. Clinical trials offer patients many benefits. In addition to contributing to medical research, clinical trial participants gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available.
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Palliative therapy is care given to improve the quality of life for patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of palliative care is to prevent or treat symptoms of disease, side effects caused by treatment, and psychological, social and spiritual problems related to a disease or its treatment. The multidisciplinary treatment team that provides palliative care includes medical doctors, nurse practitioners and licensed clinical social workers.
In addition to ensuring our patients are seamlessly transitioned back to their primary care team for ongoing care, regular check-ups, which may include physical exams, blood tests and CT scans, are provided after lung cancer treatment. Check-ups help ensure that any health changes are monitored and treated, if necessary. Patients stay in close communication with their doctors if they experience any problems between check-ups.