A growing number of men diagnosed with early-stage, slow-growing prostate cancers opt for no immediate treatment besides active surveillance.
However, most men diagnosed with the cancer choose to have their cancer treated without delay with either surgery or radiation, this is especially true for those under the age of 60 who are in good health with a long life expectancy.
There are two standard ways to treat prostate cancer that has not yet spread beyond the prostate gland. The first is called radical prostatectomy, which is surgery to remove the prostate gland. The second is radiation therapy – sometimes combined with androgen deprivation therapy, which huts off male hormones that fuel cancer cells.
Both of these options are associated with a variety of potential complications and side effects. According to the National Cancer Institute, the most common complications of surgery include leakage of urine or stool, impotence and shortening of the penis.
Surgeons can also perform nerve-sparing surgery that can save the nerves that control erection, which has reduced impotence rates. Unfortunately, men with large tumors or tumors very close to the nerves may not be able to have this surgery.
Radiation therapy can also cause impotence and urinary incontinence. Whether or not these effects occur at equal or lesser frequency than or surgery remains unknown.
Rates of these side effects can be vary according to the expertise of the surgeon or radiologist. According to experts, treatment specialists should be able to quantify their rate of side effects in their particular patient population.
Determining to whether to choose surgery or radiation is for the most part a matter of a man’s personal preference. Some patients simply prefer not to have surgery while others may prefer the one-shot removal of their tumor offered by surgery.
The choice is a personal one which should be made in cohesion with the consulting doctor, as they will offer the option they feel most comfortable with.