How We Can Help
Prostate Cancer Treatment Information
When you are treated for prostate cancer at IU Health, you receive the full focus of a team of physicians, oncologists, surgeons and other specialists. We work to heal the whole person––emotionally, spiritually and physically. Our goal is to customize the treatment plan to every unique patient using the tools at our disposal. These tools include standard pathology from dedicated genitourinary pathologists, genetic tissue testing when appropriate, and state of the art imaging.
Treatment options for prostate cancer may include the following:
- Active surveillance. Because prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer, your physician may suggest periodic prostate biopsies or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests. We will frequently utilize multiparametric MRI and/or genetic testing to confirm that you are low risk for disease progression. Many older men or men with other health issues may never need prostate cancer treatment based upon other health factors that may be more limiting but even younger men may be appropriate for active surveillance if well chosen and carefully followed. Active surveillance is generally chosen to allow you to avoid possible side effects of cancer treatment.
- Radiation therapy. The use of high-powered X-rays, placement of radioactive materials into the body or injection of radioactive substances into the bloodstream may help you avoid surgery, reduce the size of tumors before surgery or prevent cancer from recurring. At IU Health, we offer a variety of radiation techniques, including computed tomography (CT) simulation, four-dimensional CT simulation and image guided radiation therapy (IGRT), to precisely target the tumor while sparing normal adjacent tissues.
- Brachytherapy. Also called implant therapy, brachytherapy is the placement of tiny radioactive pellets, or "seeds," each about the size of a grain of rice directly into your prostate. This delivers highly targeted radiation to the prostate. The seeds let out high doses of radiation to a very small area. The seeds are left in permanently, but they will no longer emit radiation after one to two weeks.
- External beam radiotherapy. This type of radiation uses precisely aimed beams of radiation to destroy cancer cells. Before you undergo this therapy, you may have several imaging procedures, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CT scans, so your physician can pinpoint exactly where your tumor is located. Your physician uses these images to direct the beam of radiation at your tumor and minimize the damage to healthy cells in your prostate. Your physician may also create special 3D molds for you to lie in during your treatment to ensure the radiation hits the same area each time. The procedure may take 15-20 minutes to set up, but the actual radiation occurs for fewer than ten minutes. It is a painless procedure.
- Radical prostatectomy. Surgery may be used to cure prostate cancer if it has not spread outside the gland. A prostatectomy is the surgical removal of all (radical) or part (simple) of the prostate gland. Usually, patients do not need additional treatment after a radical prostatectomy.
- Robotic assisted prostatectomy. The da Vinci robotic surgery system is a form of laparoscopy and enables your surgeon to remove cancerous tissue using tiny instruments controlled from outside the body. It requires only five or six small incisions, which allows for faster healing and less pain. Potential benefits of this type of surgery compared to traditional open surgery include more precise removal of cancerous tissue, faster return of erectile function and improved chance for return of urinary continence. Our team at the Indiana University Health Melvin & Bren Simon Cancer Center has now performed in excess of 3,000 robotic prostatectomy with what we believe are excellent results. We track all of our results carefully to assure the best results possible.
- Open radical prostatectomy. We still offer open radical prostatectomy to our patients and perform this surgery on a regular basis. Generally, the indications for an open radical prostatectomy rather than a robotic approach would be extensive previous abdominal surgery.
- High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). Our surgeons assisted in the development of a new technique utilizing high frequency ultrasound (HIFU) to treat prostate cancer. This technique uses concentrated high intensity sound waves to precisely destroy prostate tissue. This technique is very effective against prostate cancer, and it has the advantage of requiring no radical prostatectomy. The technology was first trialed at here, and recently approved by the Federal Drug Administration in October 2015. We are the first health care facility in the Midwest to be preforming the surgery and one of only three training centers in the country educating physicians about HIFU.
- Cryotherapy. Cryotherapy is a relatively new minimally invasive technique used to destroy the prostate gland and prostate cancer. Your physician exposes your prostate to very cold gases that cause the cells to freeze and die. Cryotherapy is performed very carefully so that none of the healthy tissues surrounding your prostate are affected by cryotherapy. Because cryotherapy is less invasive than radical prostatectomy surgeries, you may experience less bleeding, less pain and a quick recovery. However, you may experience similar side effects after cryotherapy that you experience with traditional surgery, such as trouble urinating or impotence.
- Treatments for advanced prostate cancer:
- Hormone therapy. Men’s bodies produce hormones that can cause prostate cancer to grow. Your physician may give you injections of synthetic hormones to block or lower your body's production of testosterone to the cancer cells. This is generally first-line therapy and is effective in greater than 90 percent of patients.
- Chemotherapy. In most cases, chemotherapy medication works by destroying cancer cells and interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce.
- Immune therapy. Immune therapy either uses techniques to stimulate your own body's cancer fighting cells to attack your cancer or it utilizes new drugs than can “unmask” the cancer so that your body can now identify the cancer cells to destroy them.
- Investigational treatments. As a National Cancer Institute designated cancer center we always have the most promising newest drugs available to test when all else fails. Your medical oncologist can review your case and tell you what is available for you.
Prostate Cancer Locations & Physicians
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Prostate Cancer Support Services
The websites below will help you learn more about prostate cancer and how it may impact your life. Support resources can help you connect with other men who have experienced prostate cancer.
A Sampling of Prostate Cancer Support Services
Centers for Disease Control
This U.S. government website provides a variety of information about prostate cancer.
National Cancer Institute
This NCI website provides extensive information about prostate cancer, offers resources and support for men with prostate cancer and links to clinical trials.
Prostate Cancer Foundation
The Prostate Cancer Foundation website provides in-depth information about prostate cancer and its treatment. It also has an extensive list of support resources for men with prostate cancer.
Us Too is a national advocacy and information organization dedicated to helping men with prostate cancer. Among this website’s resources are links to online and in-person support for men with prostate cancer and their families.