Treatment Guides

Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men around the world. It affects the prostate gland, a small gland located near the bladder that is responsible for producing seminal fluid.

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quick details
  • Men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
  • 99.6 % live 5 years after diagnosis.
  • The surgery can last between 2-4 hours.
  • Radiotherapy on average lasts for 4 weeks.
  • In addition to common risks associated with surgery, erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence are possible long-term side effects.
  • Radiotherapy side effects include: loss of pubic hair, nausea, vomiting, pain during urination, frequent urination.

Causes and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer


Prostate cancer like most other cancers is caused due to a presence of abnormal cells. Normal healthy prostate cells undergo mutations and then proceed to divide relentlessly ultimately forming a tumor. There are a few factors that can place you at a higher risk of prostate cancer:

  • Age: Older men are more at risk. Prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 65
  • In the US, black men have been shown to have a higher risk of developing this particular cancer. Research does not fully understand why, but there is evidence that it may be related to genes.In Europe there is a north-south gradient, in the north more cases of prostate cancer have been found.
  • Family history: If members of your family have previously had prostate or breast cancer, your chances of getting prostate cancer increase.


In its early stages, prostate cancer does not show any symptoms. Later, certain symptoms could be a cause for concern, such as:

  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Pain during urination
  • Incomplete urination or a weak flow

The above stated symptoms may also caused because of other prostate problems and it hence recommended that you undergo diagnostic tests.

In case the cancer has metastasized, symptoms might expand to include:

  • Some erectile dysfunction
  • Bleeding whilst ejaculating or urinating
  • Pelvic, hip or back pain

Diagnosis & Treatment


There are different diagnostic tests that can be done for prostate cancer. These include:

  • Blood test: this is specifically done to measure the amount of the prostate-specific antigen or PSA (is an enzyme produced by prostate epithelial cells)
  • Physical examination, or a digital rectal examination of your prostate
  • An MRI, CT or bone scan could also be requested by your doctor
  • A biopsy may be performed if your surgeon finds unusual tissue in your prostate, or if high levels of PSA are found in your blood.

How is prostate cancer treated?


In certain cases of high risk prostate cancer, before or along with your radical prostatectomy your surgeon will perform what is known as a pelvic lymphadenectomy. The surgery consists of removing one part of the lymph nodes present in the pelvis that lie along the external, internal and common iliac arteries. The surgery is usually performed laparoscopically and is done to prevent the cancer from spreading to the lymph nodes, or removing micrometastases or to check for the presence of any cancer cells.

A radical prostatectomy is the main surgery performed for prostate cancer and entails removing the gland and possibly some surrounding tissue. This is a useful form of treatment if your cancer is localized in the prostate.

The traditional surgery involves the following steps:

  • Prior to the surgery, you will be placed under general anaesthesia or an anesthetic numbing the lower half of your body (spinal/epidural).
  • The surgeon starts the prostatectomy by making an incision from your lower abdomen all the way down to beginning of your pubic bone.
  • Following this, the prostate and any affected surrounding tissue will be removed
  • Next, a catheter will be placed in your penis to help you urinate. This will remain in place for approximately 2 weeks.
  • Lastly, your incision will be sutured and dressed.

The radical prostatectomy could also be done through a manual or robotic laparoscopy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy works by aiming high energy waves at the cancerous cells. This causes the cancer cells to die and though the healthy cells sustain some damage, they can repair themselves. The treatment takes place over 4 weeks, in short sessions of 5 days per week.

This treatment is advisable for men who have a localized prostate cancer, or the cancer has only advanced to nearby tissue. Additionally, you will undergo a hormone therapy prior to undergoing radiotherapy. Hormones ensure a higher success rate by shrinking your prostate.

Other treatments

There are other less common treatments available, such as:

  • Brachytherapy: This is internal radiation therapy as compared to the conventional external radiation therapy described above. It involves placing a radiation source inside your body to kill the cancer cells. This can be temporary or permanent.
  • High-intensity focused ultrasound: This treatment uses high frequency sound waves to target and kill cancerous cells.
  • Hormone therapy: Is recommended as a long-term treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer or alongside your main treatment in the early stages. It works by blocking testosterone production in the body or by blocking it from reaching the epithelial prostate cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Uses anti-cancer drugs to kill or shrink the cancer causing cells. This treatment is mostly recommended for me with advanced prostate cancer.

Further treatment options

  • Active surveillance: For men that have been diagnosed with localised low-risk prostate cancer, the option of active surveillance is a viable strategy that has shown success. This means that patients do not immediately undergo chemo or radiotherapy, but instead defer treatment and monitor their cancer. This is done by undergoing regular PSA tests, DRE and biopsies. The principle behind this is, that a low risk of prostate cancer will not cause any dire effects to your health, and you will avoid the aggressive side effects of unnecessary cancer treatments.

  • Watchful waiting: Similar to active surveillance, watchful waiting involves a less ‘active’ and strict follow up routine. It is also more suitable for men who may have other health problems, and aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy may cause more damage than the cancer itself. If men on watchful waiting do have treatment at some point, it is more geared towards reducing symptoms than as a cure.

What should I expect from this procedure?

Prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer, and does not present with any symptoms in its early stages. There are a now, a variety of treatments available, ranging from surgery to brachytherapy. It is important to keep in mind that the treatment will be recommended to you based how your cancer has progressed. Finally, each of the treatments come with their risks and side effects, so make sure you have spoken to your physician about these before you start a treatment.

The survival rate for early stage prostate cancer is almost at a 100%, meaning the prognosis is excellent. These odds, along with your mentality and willingness to partake in the treatments fully, will play a major role in the outcome.

How do I find the right doctor?

We understand that before going through a major treatment like surgery or radiotherapy, you may be feeling unsure and want a second opinion, or you would like to look for the top oncologist specializing in prostate cancer, or for a clinical trial doing cutting edge research. For support with any of these queries and question, Qunomedical is here for you 24/7.

Qunomedical Health Managers have an all-round knowledge to find the right specialist for you. Learn more about Qunomedical.