New Treatments For Prostate Cancer

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Above could mention the four most common cancer treatments that work especially well with prostate cancer: watchful waiting, surgery (prostatectomy), radiation therapy (or radiotherapy), and hormone/hormonal therapy. Again they all work pretty well in certain regards, but perhaps because so little is actually understood about cancer of the prostate, these remedies for the condition are generally fraught with side effects and complications that are not too attractive even for a patient who should be more concerned about staying alive.

For this reason, researchers are hard at work in the laboratory studying various other treatments for prostate cancer that might improve on the performances of the old ones. In several cases, new approaches are being attempted entirely; in others, the old techniques are getting the much-needed boost.

Cryosurgery for instance is a new technique that is radically different in concept, but whose approach is closely related to standard radical prostatectomy. It involves the insertion of thin metal rods into the prostate gland and cooling them to such extreme temperatures that the cells inside of the prostate freeze up and die. The cancerous cells die off this way, and the patient generally gets a better ten year guarantee that the disease will not relapse than he would with any other intervention.

In addition, cryosurgery offers a quicker surgical procedure, less blood loss, shorter stay in the hospital, a quicker recovery from side effects, and lower risk of loss of continence. Cryosurgery even offers better relief from prostate cancer symptoms than prostatectomy does for recurrent disease following radiation. But it is still in research because there still is a problem with loss of potency – up to ninety percent of the patients still lose their ability to achieve an erection, and that simply cannot be accepted.

Another new treatment for this cancer is HIFU – High Intensity Focused Ultrasound – in which sound (ultrasonic waves) is used rather than ionizing radiation (from radiotherapy) to kill cancerous cells (by heating). It is so much better than radiation because it can focus better on specific areas of the prostate to eliminate the cancer with minimal risks of affecting other tissues and organs – a problem that causes radiation proctitis, and is not very comfortable for patients to deal with. However, HIFU is still in research because the makers of the equipment carried out the tests, and doctors simply have to have a lot more specific results.

Two other treatments in a similar category are biologic therapy and chemotherapy. ‘Chemo’ already is in use, but it is often used for late stage disease when it can only treat and not cure ? that needs to be changed. Biologic therapy is the same as immunotherapy, which requires boosting the body’s immune system to fight the cancer on its own; there are limitations to tit and it can be improved upon.

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