Does my choice of initial prostate cancer treatment preclude other treatments later on?

Answers from Erik P. Castle, M.D.

Generally speaking, no. But first, some background information.

Selecting the right treatment for prostate cancer depends on many factors. They include your overall health, your age, the size and spread of the cancer, the aggressiveness of your cancer, and how you feel about the potential side effects of treatment. Treatment options include:

  • Surgery (prostatectomy)
  • Radiation therapy (either external beam radiation or radioactive seed implants, called brachytherapy)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Freezing therapy (cryosurgery)
  • Heating therapy (high-intensity focused ultrasound)
  • Active surveillance (watchful waiting)

Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.

Which initial treatment you choose may not affect a later treatment choice, should it be needed because of recurring cancer. However, prostatectomy after radiation therapy or cryosurgery (salvage prostatectomy) is performed in only very select cases because of the significantly increased risk of fecal and urinary incontinence. How widespread the recurring cancer is also plays a role in considering salvage prostatectomy.

Although salvage prostatectomy can be performed at specialized medical centers, it is often an option of last resort and determined on a case-by-case basis. In general, prostatectomy is not an option for men who have previously received radiation therapy or cryosurgery, and other treatments, including androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), may be tried before a salvage prostatectomy.

Jul. 07, 2012 See more Expert Answers