- How is prostate cancer treated?
- Expectant management, watchful waiting, and active surveillance for prostate cancer
- Surgery for prostate cancer
- Radiation therapy for prostate cancer
- Cryosurgery for prostate cancer
- Hormone therapy for prostate cancer
- Chemotherapy (chemo) for prostate cancer
- Vaccine treatment for prostate cancer
- Preventing and treating prostate cancer spread to bones
How is prostate cancer treated?
About prostate cancer treatment
You have a lot to think about when choosing the best way to treat or manage your cancer. There may be more than one treatment to choose from. You might feel that you need to make a decision quickly. But give yourself time to take in all the information you have learned. Ask questions of your cancer care team. See What are some questions I can ask my doctor about prostate cancer? for some ideas about what to ask. Depending on each man’s case, the treatment options might include:
- Expectant management (watchful waiting) or active surveillance
- Radiation treatment
- Cryosurgery (cryotherapy)
- Hormone therapy
- Vaccine treatment
- Treatment aimed at cancer spread to bone
These treatments are most often used one at a time, although in some cases they may be combined.
Many men may find it helpful to get a second opinion, especially if they have many treatments to choose from. Talking with doctors who specialize in different kinds of treatment may be helpful.
The main types of doctors who treat prostate cancer include:
- Urologists: surgeons who treat diseases of the urinary system and male reproductive system (including the prostate)
- Radiation oncologists: doctors who treat cancer with radiation
- Medical oncologists: doctors who treat cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy
Your primary care doctor can also be a source of information as you sort through your treatment options. It’s important to discuss all of your treatment options, including goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help you choose the treatment that best fits your needs.
Many other specialists might be part of your treatment team as well. If you’d like to know more about who may be on your cancer care team, see Health Professionals Associated With Cancer Care.
Thinking about taking part in a clinical trial
Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases, they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they are not right for everyone.
If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. You can also call our clinical trials matching service at 1-800-303-5691 for a list of studies that meet your medical needs, or see the Clinical Trials section of our website to learn more.
Considering complementary and alternative methods
You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasn’t mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be dangerous.
Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known (or not known) about the method, which can help you make an informed decision. See the Complementary and Alternative Medicine section of our website to learn more.
Help getting through cancer treatment
Your cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Hospital- or clinic-based support services are an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.
The American Cancer Society also has programs and services – including rides to treatment, lodging, support groups, and more – to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists on call 24 hours a day, every day.
The next few sections describe the types of treatments used for prostate cancer.
Last Medical Review: 01/09/2015
Last Revised: 02/09/2016