How is prostate cancer treated?


Prostate cancer can be treated in a number of ways. You may be given a choice of treatments. Sometimes the treatment is to get rid of the prostate cancer completely. If this is not considered likely, the treatment aims to control the cancer or slow its growth. Which treatment options are suitable for you depends on:

The stage and grade of your cancer

Your PSA level

The size of your prostate gland

If you have urinary symptoms or not

Your general health


Active surveillance
You don’t start treatment straight away. Instead you have regular tests like blood tests, digital rectal examinations, MRIs and sometimes biopsies to spot any changes or activity in your cancer. 

This way you can avoid treatment side-effects for as long as possible and still start treatment to cure your cancer as soon as you need it.

This is a treatment option for low-risk prostate cancer, which can be very slow growing and often does not cause symptoms or problems. Active surveillance is not suitable for locally advanced prostate cancer. Read more about active surveillance.

Surgery (radical prostatectomy)
Removing your entire prostate gland. You may have radiotherapy as well. Read more about prostate cancer surgery

External beam radiotherapy
Using high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. You may have radiotherapy together with hormone therapy. Read more about radiotherapy.

Hormone therapy
Prostate cancer depends, in part, on the male hormone testosterone to grow and spread. Tablets or injections that reduce the amount of testosterone in your body can slow down or stop the growth of cancer cells. In certain circumstances hormone therapy is used together with radiotherapy for early or locally advanced prostate cancer.  Read more about hormone therapy.

Watchful waiting
An option for men with health issues that make other treatments unsuitable. You will have PSA tests and sometimes digital rectal examinations done by your hospital or GP. You will also be monitored for new symptoms, such as difficulty passing urine or bone pain. If your PSA level rises or you get symptoms you will be referred back to your cancer specialist. If there are no signs of the cancer growing, it’s safe to continue with watchful waiting.

Brachytherapy (internal radiotherapy)
Putting a radioactive source into your prostate to kill cancer cells. Read more about brachytherapy.

Chemotherapy drugs may be given to some patients with localised high-grade cancer.

Choosing a treatment

You might have a choice of treatments that are all equally good. If your doctor asks you to decide which one you want, you might feel a bit worried about making the right choice. 

There is no right or wrong treatment, so it’s up to you to decide which treatment suits you and your lifestyle the best.

We have some information on choosing a prostate cancer treatment, plus tips and tools. 

For more information

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