The prostate is a walnut sized gland located in men below their bladder. Though it serves the important function of secreting prostate fluid, which is a vital component of semen, it’s also known to cause problems as men age. In fact, prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer among men.
The older you are, the more likely it is that you will develop prostate cancer.
Thankfully, prostate cancer is also one of the slowest moving and most treatable forms of cancer. Due to its small size, some or all of the prostate can be surgically removed, as long as the cancer hasn’t spread to the surrounding areas.
This is called a prostatectomy.
While prostatectomies can be highly effective at treating prostate cancer, surgery isn’t always the best option for everyone. Less invasive treatment options are available, including chemotherapy and hormone therapy. These options don’t actually remove the cancer, but instead, they slow its progress and shrink it.
Otherwise, to get rid of prostate cancer without a prostatectomy, you may be able to undergo either brachytherapy or cryotherapy.
Brachytherapy, also known as radioactive seed implantation or internal radiation, is a form of radiation treatment used for several forms of cancer, including prostate cancer. The process involves injecting radioactive “seeds” inside the body near where the cancer is.
Unlike external radiation therapy, brachytherapy typically has fewer side effects and allows for a shorter treatment window. For prostate cancer, there is HDR (high dose rate) and LDR (low dose rate) brachytherapy.
In the case of HDR brachytherapy, the seeds are inserted near the prostate, delivering a high dose of radiation over a few minutes before they are removed. This process is repeated over several sessions.
For LDR brachytherapy, the seeds are permanently placed in the prostate gland. The radiation will naturally release overtime, and eventually, the seeds with naturally deteriorate. While LDR brachytherapy is completely safe, you’ll be advised to avoid close contact with children and pregnant women for a time.
Cryotherapy is a non-surgical procedure that uses cold temperatures to freeze and kill prostate cancer cells, along with some of the prostate itself. Before the procedure is performed, patients are typically give spinal or epidural anesthesia to numb their body, or they’re put under.
From there, several needles are guided through the perineum (the skin between the anus and the scrotum) and into the prostate. Cold gases are then sent through the needles, freezing the prostate and destroying the cancer cells. The doctor monitors the procedure through an ultrasound, ensuring that damage isn’t done to nearby tissue.
Because cryotherapy doesn’t involve actual surgery, there’s less pain and blood loss and patients are able to recover quickly. Though it can be effective, cryotherapy is not typically used as the first treatment of prostate Cancer.
Usually, it is used if radiation therapy is not successful. Otherwise, it may be used for men who are not candidates for surgery or radiation, and their cancer is low risk.
What Treatment Option is Right for Me?
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s important to meet with a urologist to discuss your options. The best form of treatment can depend on a number of factors including age, progress of the cancer, general health, and more.
At Urology Specialists of Ohio, we utilize the latest practices and technology to effectively treat prostate cancer and help our patients resume their lives. For a urologist in the Dayton/Springfield, Ohio area, contact Urology Specialists of Ohio today!