Picking the Right Treatment
Last updated: July 2023
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men in the United States. As a result, there has been a lot of research into prostate cancer treatments.1
When your doctor tells you you’ve contracted this malicious disease and you’ve picked yourself off the floor, there are many therapies for you to consider. At the risk of telling readers what they already know, among the options are prostatectomy, where the prostate is removed; hormone therapy, which depletes testosterone on which the cancer thrives; and radiotherapy, which fires beams of energy at the cancer cells. There are other options such as cryotherapy as well.2,3
How I selected a treatment
When I was diagnosed, I remember a nurse telling me that ultimately when I had all the facts, I’d have to decide between a combination of hormone and radiotherapy or having my prostate removed. I remember being bemused by this responsibility. Not being a doctor, how would I know what the best treatment would be? It was such a huge decision that was about to be taken by someone intrinsically involved, but without any of the insight required.
Fortunately, this decision was taken out of my hands. I opted to have a prostatectomy. But once the surgeon looked at my scans and charts, he said the cancer was located too close to my bladder. That made colostomy bags a real possibility if the operation went wrong. All of which left me in the unlovely arms of three years on hormone therapy and two months radiotherapy.
You have a choice
Ultimately you have a choice. Trust your doctor on the best course of treatment, and/or do your research on the information available and work hand-in-hand with your doctor to find the best therapy for you. I’d certainly advocate the latter of the two, given the range of treatments available.
Although my three years on hormone therapy was tolerable, I certainly wouldn’t want to go through it again. Should my cancer return, I’ll be digging into all the options available.
Getting diagnosed is frightening
For anyone reading this who has just been diagnosed, I know it can be a frightening, horrible moment. When my time came, I remember saying to the doctor, "but I’m only 63. Surely, I’m way too young to get this disease." To her credit she managed not to laugh at my stupidity.
It can get very dispiriting, in a Darwinian way, with thoughts of thinning out the herd and survival of the fittest. On nature documentaries it’s always the young or old that get taken out. I started to have mad thoughts about being abducted by a massive eagle or hunted down by a leopard. Prostate cancer messes with your mind and your body!
But treatments can work
But by way of reassurance, the treatments mentioned above can work, particularly if the disease is caught early. And I’m living proof of that. My diagnosis came five years ago, and as anyone reading this who has prostate cancer will know it rocks you to your foundations. That being the case, I’m very happy to tell you that a friend of mine and I are just back from the Himalayas where we trekked to Annapurna base camp.
I won’t pretend it was an easy ramble; in fact it was tough, but we made it up and back down again. I felt at times that I was pushing at the very edges of my capabilities. I’m going to return to this topic and look at what I feel the hike taught me and the insights it gave me into my prostate cancer journey.
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