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How do you choose what prostate cancer treatments to have?

Men with prostate cancer should carefully consider their treatment options. We look at the options to consider when deciding which treatment is right for you.

male deciding which prostate cancer treatment to take

Ensuring that you make an informed decision is vital for any medical treatment, but it carries heightened importance in prostate cancer care due to the delicate equilibrium between eliminating cancer cells and safeguarding your holistic well-being.

Men with prostate cancer should carefully consider their treatment options. It is important that as well as the stage and spread of their cancer, they should consider their lifestyle and the lifestyle they want to lead after treatment.

Treatment options for prostate cancer vary depending on the cancer stage and may include surgery, radiation therapy, including proton beam therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.

You’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer; what happens next?

After your cancer diagnosis, the first step is to meet with a team of doctors specialising in treating this type of cancer. This team may include a urologist, radiation oncologist, and medical oncologist. They will discuss your diagnosis and stage of cancer and then recommend the best treatment plan for you.

Who is involved in deciding what treatments are best for your prostate cancer?

A team of doctors called a multidisciplinary team (MDT) will help decide what treatments are best for your prostate cancer. The MDT will include a urologist, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, radiologist, histopathologist, and other specialists as needed.

They will discuss your diagnosis and stage of cancer, as well as your health and preferences, to recommend the best way to treat your prostate cancer. Their recommendation will be discussed with you by the consultant that you are seeing who is part of the MDT.

Treatment options for prostate cancer

The treatment plan for eliminating cancer cells in the prostate will vary depending on the patient. Treatment for localised prostate cancer can look different to someone whose cancer has spread further (metastatic).

Some standard treatment options include:

  • Surgery: This is the most common treatment for most prostate cancers. The surgery involves removing the prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissue. Surgery and radiation therapy are sometimes used in combination.
  • Radiation treatment: This treatment uses high-energy radiotherapy beams to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be used after surgery or as a standalone treatment.
  • Proton beam therapy: Proton beam therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy. It irradiates a whole tumour but can limit the dose to surrounding normal tissues, which may mean there is potential for less normal tissue damage. This, in turn, can mean fewer long-term side effects and a better quality of life for patients.
  • Chemotherapy: This treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is used to treat advanced prostate cancer when the cancer has spread distantly beyond the prostate.
  • Hormone therapy: This treatment blocks the production of hormones such as testosterone that fuel cancer cell growth. Hormone therapy can be used prior to surgery or radiotherapy for early-stage prostate cancer and also is often used to treat men with advanced prostate cancer.

The goal of treatment for prostate cancer is to cure the cancer or to control it so that it does not spread. Your treatment plan will also consider your age, overall health, and preferences.

It’s important to talk to your doctor about your treatment options so that you can make an informed decision about the best course of treatment for you. It is important to also ask about each treatment option’s benefits, risks and side effects.

What are the benefits of proton beam therapy treatment for prostate cancer?

Clinical research has demonstrated the effectiveness of proton beam therapy in prostate cancer treatment, showing it to be as effective as other treatments, including surgery and conventional photon radiotherapy.

It is a precise and targeted method of delivering radiation to damage cancer cells until they can no longer reproduce and die. It offers dual advantages. A high dose of radiation can be delivered to the tumour while limiting harm to neighbouring healthy tissue. As a result, patients can experience improved outcomes, including reduced side effects.

Should you get a second opinion on your cancer treatment options?

Getting a second opinion on cancer treatment options is a personal decision, but it can be valuable in ensuring you get the best possible care. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to get a second opinion, such as the type and stage of your cancer, your age and overall health, and your preferences.

Here are some reasons why you might want to get a second opinion on cancer treatment options:

  • You are not comfortable with your current doctor’s recommendations.
  • You are unsure about the risks and benefits of the treatment options your doctor has presented.
  • You want a second opinion from a specialist in your type of cancer.
  • You want to compare different treatment options and see if there is a better fit for you.
  • You want to ensure you get the most up-to-date information on cancer treatment.

If you want to arrange for a second opinion, you can ask your GP to help you find an appropriate consultant or to refer you to the consultant if you have already found one. You can also approach the consultant for an appointment directly through their office.  

How do the treatments for localised prostate cancer affect men?

The treatments for localised prostate cancer can significantly impact men’s lives. The most common treatments for localised prostate cancer are surgery, radiation therapy and hormone therapy.

These treatments can cause a variety of long-term side effects, including:

  • Surgery: erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence
  • Radiation therapy: erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, bowel disturbance (diarrhoea, frequent stools, rectal bleeding)
  • Hormone therapy: Erectile dysfunction due to blocking of the male hormone testosterone, fatigue, bone density loss leading to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures and weight gain.

In addition to these physical effects, localised prostate cancer treatments can have a significant emotional and psychological impact on men. After a radical prostatectomy, you will no longer ejaculate during sex. Men with prostate cancer may experience anxiety, depression, and fear of death. They may also have to deal with changes in their relationships with their partners, family, and friends.

How do the treatments for metastatic prostate cancer affect men?

Metastatic cancer is a type of cancer where prostate cancer cells have spread beyond the prostate to other parts of the body, such as the bones, liver, or lungs. Metastatic cancer is often more challenging to treat than prostate cancer that has not spread.

The goal of treatment for metastatic cancer is to control the growth of the remaining cancer cells and improve the quality of life for the patient. Treatment may not cure the cancer that has spread, but it can help slow the disease progression and relieve symptoms with ongoing cancer care.

The commonest treatments for metastatic prostate cancer are hormone therapy and chemotherapy. These can cause a range of side effects:

  • Fatigue: Chemotherapy and hormone therapy can cause fatigue, making it difficult to work, exercise, and enjoy life.
  • Bone loss: Hormone therapy can cause bone density loss, leading to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Anaemia: Chemotherapy can cause anaemia, which is a low red blood cell count. This can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and pale skin.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Chemotherapy can cause nausea and vomiting, although this can be effectively controlled with anti-sickness medications.
  • Hair loss: Chemotherapy can cause hair loss. Although this is reversible, it can be emotionally distressing for men.

Patients being treated for metastatic cancer may experience a range of symptoms, which can be due to the cancer, or the treatment, including:

  • Bone pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anaemia
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Erectile dysfunction

Speak to our consultants to see if proton beam therapy is right for you

While there is evidence that proton beam therapy effectively minimises side effects, it is worth noting that its availability isn’t widespread. As a result, it might not appear on common lists of prostate cancer treatments. This limited access can make exploring and considering it even more important as you make your decision.

World-renowned consultant oncologists provide proton beam therapy at Proton International London. Our team of experts has received extensive training to deliver proton beam therapy safely and accurately. We are committed to providing our patients with the best possible care, and our consultants are at the forefront of cancer treatment.

Our team includes some of the country’s leading cancer experts, many of whom are involved in cutting-edge research and clinical trials. We are constantly looking for new ways to improve the lives of our patients, and we are proud to offer proton beam therapy, a leading-edge treatment option for cancer.

If you want the best possible care for your cancer, contact Proton International London today, we are here to help you.

In summary

There are many factors to consider when choosing prostate cancer treatment options, including the cancer stage, lifestyle considerations, and side effects of treatment. A multidisciplinary team of doctors can help decide the best treatments for each patient.

Surgery, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy are common treatments for localised prostate cancer. Proton beam therapy is a newer treatment option that may be recommended for localised prostate cancer patients.

It is essential to talk to your doctor about your treatment options so that you can make an informed decision about the best course of treatment for you.

Here are some additional tips for choosing prostate cancer treatments:

  • Research and learn as much as possible about the different treatment options.
  • Talk to other men who have had prostate cancer and get their advice.
  • Consider your lifestyle and how the treatments might affect your ability to work, exercise, and enjoy life.
  • Make sure you understand the risks and side effects of each treatment option.

Choosing prostate cancer treatment is difficult, but understanding all your options will help you make the best decision. You can select the proper treatment by talking to your doctor and considering your options.

Frequently asked questions about choosing prostate cancer treatments

To learn more about prostate cancer treatments available, look at our FAQs or contact us today:

How long can you live with prostate cancer

The life expectancy of a man with prostate cancer in the UK depends on several factors, including the cancer stage, the patient’s age and overall health, and the type of treatment they receive.

According to Cancer Research UK, generally for men diagnosed with prostate cancer in England:

  • more than 95 out of 100 (more than 95%) will survive their cancer for 1 year or more
  • more than 85 out of 100 (more than 85%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more
  • almost 80 out of 100 (almost 80%) will survive their cancer for 10 years or more

How much does prostate cancer treatment cost?

Proton International London offers proton beam therapy to patients from the UK and abroad, both insured and self-pay.

Insured patients: Proton International London has agreements with all key medical insurance providers. If you have been approved for proton beam therapy and have private medical insurance, you must confirm with your insurer that your policy covers your treatment. Our team is happy to liaise with your insurer on your behalf.

Self-pay patients: The cost of proton beam therapy will vary from patient to patient, depending on the cancer site and the complexity of the treatment. Our team will be able to provide you with a Treatment Package Letter, which will detail everything that is included. Our team will discuss this with you and confirm how to pay.

International patients: Proton International London has negotiated contracts with several embassies and high commissions. If you are an international patient, please let us know if your embassy or high commission covers you. If your company sponsors your treatment, please let us know, and we will be happy to discuss it.

How long does proton beam therapy for prostate cancer take?

The length of proton beam therapy for prostate cancer treatment can vary depending on the cancer stage and the patient’s circumstances. In preparation for treatment, patients undergo a series of tests and scans to create a detailed map of their prostate gland. This information will be used to plan the treatment and ensure the proton beams are delivered with maximum accuracy.

Treatment sessions are given over a number of weeks, usually between 4 and 8 weeks, daily 5 days a week but not at the weekend. The actual treatment sessions typically last for 20-30 minutes each. No pain is associated with the treatment, but some patients may experience mild side effects, such as fatigue, sore skin, and cystitis.

Proton beam therapy is a relatively new treatment for prostate cancer, but it has been found to be effective in clinical trials. It may be a better option for some patients, for whom it would be beneficial to reduce the side effects of treatment.

Dr Beatrice Seddon Medical Director and Clinical Oncologist Proton International London

This article has been clinically reviewed by Proton International Medical Director and Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Dr Beatrice Seddon. Dr Seddon specialises in the use of radiotherapy (including proton beam therapy) and chemotherapy for the management of soft tissue and bone sarcomas.

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