Treatment for advanced prostate cancer
The treatment options for advanced prostate cancer include hormonal therapy, surgery (to relieve symptoms), chemotherapy, radiotherapy (to relieve bone pain) and controlling symptoms.
When prostate cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland and is affecting other parts of the body, it can no longer be cured. However, treatment can usually be given to control the cancer for several years, relieve any symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Hormonal therapy is recommended to most men who have advanced prostate cancer. A range of hormonal therapies are available.
Surgery to remove the prostate gland isn’t suitable for men with advanced prostate cancer, but occasionally a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) can help to relieve problems with passing urine.
Chemotherapy may be used if hormonal therapy is no longer able to control the cancer.
Radiotherapy is often used to treat bone pain.
There are other treatments available that can effectively relieve and control any symptoms you have.
Deciding on the best treatment isn’t always straightforward and a number of factors have to be taken into account. The most important of these are:
your general health
where the cancer is and the symptoms it’s causing
the possible benefits of treatment
the possible side effects of treatment
how you feel about treatment and whether you’re willing to risk getting the side effects for the possible benefits in controlling your cancer
whether you’ve had treatment before and, if so, which treatments.
How treatment is planned
Back to top
In most hospitals, a team of specialists will discuss the possible treatments for your situation. This multidisciplinary team (MDT) will include:
a surgeon (urologist)
a medical oncologist (specialist in chemotherapy and other drugs for cancer)
a clinical oncologist (specialist in radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other drugs for cancer)
a specialist nurse.
It may also include other healthcare professionals such as doctors who specialise in symptom control (palliative care doctors), a dietitian, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychologist or counsellor.
Treatment decisions for advanced prostate cancer
Back to top
Advantages and disadvantages of treatments
It’s helpful to be aware of the advantages, possible disadvantages and side effects of the treatments before you have them. Your doctor or specialist nurse will explain these to you. You can then decide what is best for your situation.
The advantages and disadvantages of individual treatments for advanced prostate cancer are highlighted in green boxes on the relevant treatment pages.
It’s important to remember that everyone reacts differently to cancer treatment. It’s impossible for doctors to accurately predict who will and who won’t be affected by the side effects of each treatment, so you need to ask about the risks beforehand and have plenty of opportunity to discuss them.
Doctors and nurses are used to people asking questions about treatment. It may also help to discuss the options with your cancer specialist, specialist nurse or with our cancer support specialists.
You may find it helpful to make a list of questions and to take a relative or close friend with you to help you remember the discussion.
Remember, there are often decisions to be made about which treatment to have, or whether to have treatment at all. You can take as large or small a part in making those decisions as you wish – your healthcare team can help you make the most appropriate decision for your situation.
You can always ask for more time if you feel that you can’t make a decision when your treatment is first explained to you.