Prostate cancer begins as a tumor develops in the prostate. Prostate Cancer that spreads outside the prostate gland to the lymph nodes, bones, or further areas is called metastatic prostate cancer.
Unfortunately at this time, no treatments can cure advanced prostate cancer. Doctors however do have ways to help manage its spread and related symptoms.
Any methods that slow down advanced prostate cancer usually have a lot of side effects that can sometimes be more debilitating than the prostate cancer itself. Older individuals usually choose not to treat their advanced prostate cancer because of these side effects.
Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer:
The male hormone testosterone stimulates the prostate cancer growth. Reducing testosterone levels is usually the first form of treatment if the prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body. A reduction in testosterone can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells and shrink prostate cancer tumors.
Hormone therapy can risks include loss of sex drive, impotence and weakened bones. Typically most patients using hormone therapy to treat prostate cancer become less responsive to its benefits over time (hormone therapy resistance).
Chemotherapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer:
Until recently the only treatment for prostate cancer was hormone therapy, however now those suffering from advanced prostate cancer have a single chemotherapy drug: Taxotere. Taxotere (given with the steroid prednisone) can hinder cancer cells from dividing and growing.
Like any other chemotherapy Taxotere side effects include nausea, hair loss, deficient bone marrow and the decline (or stopping) of red blood cell formation. Taxotere has been known to extend a patient’s life from several months all the way up to several years.
Prostate Cancer Surgery:
If an individual has reoccurring or advanced prostate cancer they may choose to have the entire prostate gland removed. This surgical procedure is called a radical prostatectomy. Along with the removal of the prostate gland surgeons will usually remove the lymph nodes surrounding the prostate as well.
If the prostate cancer has not spread beyond the prostate gland Cyrosurgery may be used to kill the cancer cells. Cyrosurgery uses extremely cold temperatures to freeze and effectively destroy the cancer cells.
In an effort to reduce testosterone levels in the body permanently doctors may suggest removing the testicles. This procedure is called an orchiectomy. Patients who receive this surgery may choose get prosthetics inserted that have the same shape and size of the testicles.
Cutting Edge Treatment for Prostate Cancer:
One of the exciting new treatments for advanced prostate cancer that is currently being developed involves using genetically modified viruses and Prostate-Specific Antigen .
Here’s how it works. The patient is injected with a modified virus that contains PSA (prostate-specific antigen). When the body’s immune system encounters this virus it learns that this virus is dangerous and must be attacked.
Since this virus has PSA characteristics in it researchers hope that the immune system will also attack prostate cancer cells that contain PSA, thus strategically destroying prostate cancer cells.
This form of treatment is so promising because it could prove to be very effective with very few side effects. Only time will tell of course.