A silver lining of many prostate cancer diagnoses is that when localized, non-aggressive cases are detected in their earliest stages, the five-year survival rate can approach almost 99%. Also, with time and more options at their disposal, doctors are increasingly leading their patients, at least initially, to non-invasive treatment programs whenever possible.
Different Treatments for Different Cases of Prostate Cancer
Yet not all prostate cancer lends itself to active surveillance or variations on the wait-and-see approach. For the more serious cases that are still confined to the prostate, and given that prostate cancer growth is often tied to the level of androgen levels in a man’s body, a common treatment option has been to lower or cease androgen production, or block how they affect the body. This is called hormone therapy or androgen-deprivation therapy.
When the cancer has been found to have spread beyond the prostate – a process known as metastasis – then different treatments must be added to supplement hormone therapy. Chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and radical prostatectomy (or combinations of these) are just three of the treatment choices offered when the cancer has metastasized. And since the disease can grow despite the continuation of hormone therapy, the cancer is classified as castration-resistant.
Key Questions to Ask Your Doctor
When a family has received bad news from their doctor, members often speak of being rendered numb and unable to process the significant and important information being communicated by their doctors and other healthcare professionals. For this reason, it might be a good idea to bring along a list of one’s own questions and to write down the answers to them for review after the appointment.
When dealing with more advanced cases of prostate cancer, consider asking the following questions of your doctor (from Cancer.net) before embarking on a treatment plan:
- What type of prostate cancer do I have? What does this mean?
- What is my prognosis (chance of recovery)?
- What clinical trials are open to me?
- What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
- What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?
- How well is this treatment likely to work? What are the risks?
- How will we know the treatment is working?
- How will my quality of life change over time?
- What are the next steps if the cancer worsens or comes back?
- What treatments are available to manage the symptoms of the cancer?
- If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my cancer care, who can help me with these concerns?
- Where can I find support for me and my family?
- Whom should I call with questions or concerns?
We’re Here to Help Too
At Fans for the Cure, a key aspect of our work is to be available to men and their families when they first receive that diagnosis of prostate cancer. We invite you to contact us, or to ask a question. We will discretely and confidentially work to get you and answer. Often, we can put you in touch directly with one of the leading prostate cancer doctors on our Medical Advisory Board.