Treatment for Stage 4 Prostate Cancer

Treatment for Stage 4 Prostate Cancer
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Stage 4 Prostate Cancer

Stage 4 prostate cancer is usually not considered curable by most physicians. In this stage of prostate cancer the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, rectum, bladder or bones. Treatment for stage 4 prostate cancer is limited but it is usually treated with hormone therapy, radical prostatectomy or external beam radiation.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is used in stage 4 prostate cancer treatment to slow the cancer growth. That is usually the goal of hormone therapy vs getting rid of the cancer. The most effective type of hormone therapy is a orchiectomy which means the testicles are surgically removed. Ninety percent of male hormones are made in the testicles so this suppresses most male hormone production effectively. It is an outpatient procedure but there are side effects such as depression, breast tenderness and possible breast development.

Another common type of hormone therapy for stage 4 prostate cancer is called luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH). This drug inhibits testosterone production in the body. Patients who use this option must visit the doctor’s office frequently for injections.

Radical Prostatectomy

A radical prostatectomy is considered major surgery. It involves removing the prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissue. Sometimes lymph nodes may be removed as well for sampling. There are possible complications to this surgery such as bleeding, impotence, heart attack, stroke etc. It takes time to recover from this surgery just as any major surgery.

After the surgery the patient will have a catheter for two to three weeks. There will also be dressings to change and keep clean until the wounds completely dry.

External Beam Radiation

External beam radiation involves using radioactive sources outside the body. Usually external beam radiation is delivered daily but each case is different. The goal of external beam radiation use in stage 4 prostate cancer is to try to stop the speed of the rate at which the cancer spreads.

External beam radiation involves the patient lying still on a table while the machine that administers the radiation rotates around the patient delivering the beams. The radiation beam passes through the skin and other tissue of the body so the person receives a dose of radiation as well. The good news is that with today’s technology the machine can be programmed to treat a very precise area of the body such as the prostate.

Side effects are minimal with external beam radiation. There is usually no pain associated with the process. The biggest side effects appear to be impotence, urinary incontinence or urinary retention. If these side effects occur they can be managed with the help of the patient’s physician.

Conclusion

In most cases stage 4 prostate cancer has spread and is not considered curable. Treatment for stage 4 prostate cancer is best determined by the patient’s oncologist as it will vary case to case. Every treatment has its own set of side effects and complications but they can usually be managed by the patient’s physician. The goal of treatment is usually to help the patient have more time and to slow down the cancer’s spread.

References

Prostate Cancer Treatment Guide: https://www.prostate-cancer.com/radiation/side-effects/radiation-side-effects.html

Web MD: https://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/guide/treatments-by-stage

Web MD: https://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/radical-prostatectomy

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