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Prostate Cancer Treatment

There are several options for treating prostate cancer. It is important to understand all of the options as well as to consult with a urologist and oncologist before making a decision that’s right for you. Our specialists will provide a comprehensive assessment of available treatments as well as expected outcomes for your particular cancer.

Treatment decisions are selected based on several clinical and psychological factors, including:

  • Prostate cancer aggressiveness
  • Health status
  • Anticipated life expectancy
  • Impact of prostate cancer treatment on life expectancy
  • Side effects of treatment

 Active Surveillance

Prostate cancer typically grows slowly. This means that some patients do not need any treatment. It you have low-risk prostate cancer, meaning it is not aggressive and is unlikely to impact your life expectancy and quality of life, close monitoring may be your best choice. 

Active surveillance involves regular follow-up visits with your care team, as well as PSA tests, digital rectal exams and a repeat biopsy every year, or more often if needed. During surveillance, if your care team detects the cancer is becoming more aggressive, you may then consider treatment.


Prostatectomy is the removal of all or part of the prostate. Radical prostatectomy is commonly performed for men with early-stage prostate cancer. In this procedure, the entire prostate and surrounding tissue are removed.

There are two common approaches to prostatectomy:

  • Open prostatectomy: The prostate is removed through a large incision in your lower abdomen. 
  • Laparoscopic/ robotic prostatectomy: The prostate is removed through several small cuts, and the surgeon is guided by a tiny camera. The surgeon may use a robotic system that offers a higher level of precision. 

Compared with an open procedure, this type of surgery may have benefits including:

  • Less bleeding
  • Faster recovery
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Fewer problems with bowel and bladder function

Risks may include:

  • Trouble controlling urine (incontinence) or bowel movements
  • Difficulty getting or keeping an erection
  • Injury to the rectum
  • Narrowing of the urethra

There may be other risks, depending on the specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor before the procedure.

 Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy can be used as a first-line treatment for prostate cancer or it may be an option if your cancer has spread or recurred. During radiation therapy, radiation is directed at your cancer to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells.

Brachytherapy is a treatment that delivers radiation internally. Tiny radioactive seeds are inserted in your body and remain there, delivering a higher dose of radiation directly to cancer cells. 

 Hormone Therapy

Prostate cancer cells need testosterone to grow. Through hormone therapy, your care team can reduce the amount of testosterone in your body or prevent the hormone from working. This type of therapy is commonly used to treat cancer that has spread beyond the prostate or for a recurrent cancer. 


Chemotherapy is a medication that helps stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. This is a treatment option if your prostate cancer has spread outside the prostate or if it has not responded to hormone therapy. Chemotherapy may be given either through an IV (in the vein) or taken orally. ding. 

 Genomic Testing

A genomic test detects and measures subtle genetic changes in your tumor generating information that can help physicians determine how best to treat your disease. Collaboration between genetic counselors and oncologists applies precision medicine to the management of inherited prostate cancer. Based on the principle that each individual prostate cancer is unique, our patient-centered genomics research program offers personalized evaluations and customized treatment plans for newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients. Genetic testing will be done on prostate tumors extracted during surgery to determine the genetic composition of the tumor. All tumors will undergo genomic sequencing and molecular analysis with standard pathology to develop a personalized treatment plan based on the tumor’s unique genomic profile. A world-class team of medical, surgical and radiation oncologists, molecular pathologists, radiologists and pharmacogenomics specialists will collaborate to develop a personalized plan with a targeted therapy or new treatment being studied in a clinical trial. 

 Novel Therapies

We offer state-of-the-art therapy, such as immunotherapy and targeted radiation, for patients with advanced prostate cancer. Your healthcare team can tell you if any of these options might be right for you.

 Clinical Trials

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.

Many of today's standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.

Patients who take part in clinical trials also help improve the way cancer will be treated in the future. Even when clinical trials do not lead to effective new treatments, they often answer important questions and help move research forward.

Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

Some clinical trials only include patients who have not yet received treatment. Other trials test treatments for patients whose cancer has not gotten better. There are also clinical trials that test new ways to stop cancer from recurring (coming back) or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.

Browse our Clinical Trials to learn more about ongoing trials at the Polsky Institute.

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