Prostate Cancer Treatments
The best treatment for prostate cancer requires a multidisciplinary team approach. Aurora prostate cancer patients benefit from multidisciplinary case reviews, which can include specialists from various disciplines.
- Cancer Nurse Navigator: a registered nurse with special training who can help answer your questions and provide information on resources and support services.
- Medical oncologist: a physician specializing in treating cancer with chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or immunotherapy.
- Pathologist: a physician who examines tissues and cells under a microscope to determine if they are normal or abnormal.
- Radiation oncologist: a physician specializing in treating cancer with radiation therapy.
- Radiologist: a physician who uses X-rays and other imaging tests to diagnose disease.
- Urologist: a physician who has specialized knowledge and surgical skills regarding problems of the urinary tract.
Our team of experts customize prostate cancer treatment plans for each patient and may include prostate cancer surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
- Open surgery: traditional prostatectomy surgery involves removing your prostate entirely. It is only a viable choice if the cancer is confined to the prostate area.
- Laparoscopic surgery: with laparoscopic surgery, several small incisions are made in your abdomen through which micro-surgical instruments are used to remove your prostate.
- Robotic surgery: the third option is robotic-assisted surgery. In 2003, Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center acquired the state-of-the-art daVinci® Surgical System. We were the first Wisconsin hospital to perform this minimally invasive form of surgery. Since that time, we have performed thousands of operations using robotic surgery─more than any other hospital in the state. Worldwide, removing the cancerous prostate, using this surgical system, has been done over 7,600 times. These precise procedures require smaller incisions and help speed the recovery process for most patients.
- Cryosurgery: a probe is inserted into your prostate and freezes your prostate to kill cancer cells. It can be repeated multiple times if needed. Though this technique has improved in the last few years, long-term data is not yet available as to its long-term effectiveness and it is still considered experimental. Impotence and urinary incontinence are possible side effects.
With all types of surgery, there are risks of side effects including possible urinary incontinence or impotence, though these side effects may lessen over time. The risk of having these side effects increases with age.
There are two main types of radiation therapy:
External beam involves a computer aiming radioactive rays at your prostate from outside your body to kill cancer cells.
- 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT):3D-CRT uses special computers to precisely map the location of the prostate. This mapping makes it possible to aim the radiation treatment directly at the prostate, avoiding other structures.
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): an advanced form of 3D-CRT with the same three-dimensional mapping capability. IMRT uses a computerized machine that moves around you to deliver radiation beams from different angels. IMRT allows our physicians to adjust the strength of each radiation beam, to minimize the doses that reach more sensitive tissue. The placement of three gold markers within the prostate, are required to indicate the precise location of the prostate before treatment begins.
- Calypso 4D System: the Calypso 4D System uses radiofrequency waves that allow for very accurate alignment of yourprostate for each treatment session. It monitors the position of the prostate at all times during radiation treatment delivery. The placement of three tiny transponders are implanted in your prostate and are required to monitor the prostate in real time throughout your treatment. Calypso allows your physicians to monitor exactly where the prostate is at all time to make quick and important decisions about your care.
- CyberKnife: surgeons are now utilizing the CyberKnife radiosurgery system, a robotic arm that can provide large and precise doses of radiation to tumors and reduces the number of treatments needed from 40 over an eight-week period to five or so over a week. Placing fiducial markers accurately identifies the prostate. Similar to surgery, radiation treatment can cause impotence, though it may not occur right away after the surgery, but rather over time.
Brachytherapy: involves implanting radioactive seeds in your prostate to kill cancer cells. This method of treatment may have fewer side effects.
By impeding testosterone, our physicians can slow cancer growth. While hormone therapy will not cure prostate cancer, it is often recommended in addition to another form of treatment, or to keep it from spreading too fast when no treatment is the recommended way to proceed. Side effects often include hot flashes, a loss of sex drive, as well as impotence and muscle and bone loss (osteoporosis).
Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs that go throughout your entire body. It’s usually only used if you have advanced cancers that are not responding to hormonal therapy. The side effects vary for the different kinds of drugs utilized and should be discussed with your physician.
With Immunotherapy, physicians stimulate your own immune system to identify and destroy cancer cells on its own without destroying healthy tissue. Cancer vaccines use your own cells to trigger an immune system attack on the cancerous prostate cells.
Aurora Health Care gives you access to ongoing, national clinic trials, including those sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.