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Prostate Cancer Treatments
Your prostate cancer care team will work carefully to determine the best treatment options for you. Using advanced methods and technology, we personalize your treatment plan to your unique needs. Our goal is to maximize treatment success while minimizing the impact that treatment and prostate cancer can have on your life.
What We Offer For Prostate Cancer
- Nationally recognized expertise to treat every stage and subtype of prostate cancer.
- Precise diagnosis options and secondary screening tests that combine advanced technologies with the experience of urologists, pathologists, and radiologists specially trained in diagnosing prostate cancer.
- Multispecialty care for advanced cancer that combines surgical treatment with prostate-specific radiation and cancer medications when needed.
- Advanced treatment options, including focal therapies, minimally invasive robotic surgery, advanced radiation treatments, and the latest clinical trials.
- Comprehensive rehabilitation after surgery that incorporates pelvic floor physical therapy and sexual medicine.
- Compassionate support services, including care coordination, counseling, and nutrition.
Connect to Care
Let us help find personalized care options for you and your family.
Interested in an Online Second Opinion?
The Stanford Medicine Online Second Opinion program offers you easy access to our world-class doctors. It’s all done remotely, and you don’t have to visit our hospital or one of our clinics for this service. You don’t even need to leave home!
Visit our online second opinion page to learn more.
Your doctor will recommend treatment options based on the grade and stage of prostate cancer. Different prostate cancer treatments have different goals, such as:
- Slowing or stopping the growth of cancer
- Destroying cancer cells in the prostate
- Destroying any cancer cells that may have spread (metastasized) outside the prostate
- Delaying or preventing cancer from coming back (recurrence)
- Managing symptoms of incurable cancer
Our recommended plan will include the most appropriate treatment types for your unique case.
We recommend active surveillance for prostate cancer that we detect early, appears nonaggressive, and does not cause you any symptoms. Active surveillance means your care team will carefully monitor you over time. We perform regular follow-up visits, digital rectal exams, blood tests, and biopsies (if needed) to keep an eye on the prostate cancer and your health. If these tests indicate the cancer has progressed, you and your care team will discuss potential therapies as a next step.
If your doctor recommends prostate surgery, you will meet with a cancer surgeon to discuss your options. We offer a surgery called robotic radical prostatectomy. This minimally invasive procedure removes the entire prostate through small incisions.
We use advanced technology that allows you to have a successful surgery with less blood loss and a faster recovery. Our cancer surgeons perform hundreds of robotic prostatectomies every year.
To achieve the best possible outcome, your care team may recommend combining surgery with other treatments such as radiation therapy. Depending on the goal of treatment, additional therapy can be given before or after surgery.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams, such as X-rays or gamma rays, to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy does not cause pain, and you won’t feel anything during your treatments. Radiation doesn’t make you radioactive, and you can safely be around other people, including children.
Our radiation specialists use the latest technology to precisely target the prostate while minimizing damage to nearby healthy tissue. The types of radiation therapy we use include internal and external radiation.
Internal radiation, also known as brachytherapy, places tiny amounts of radioactive substances (seeds) directly in the prostate. At Stanford Health Care, we use high-dose brachytherapy, which means that the radiation is very strong. The radioactive substances are only placed in the prostate for a short period of time.
External radiation delivers radiation from outside the body to the area of the prostate with cancer cells. The types of external radiation we use include:
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which customizes the strength of each beam and customizes the beams to the precise tumor shape
- Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT), which is similar to IMRT but delivers constant radiation as the treatment machine rotates around you
- Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR/SBRT), which is a very powerful form of radiation given in five or fewer treatments (also called stereotactic body radiation therapy)
Focal therapy may be a treatment option if the cancer is localized in one area of the prostate and has not spread to other parts of the body. These treatments are performed under general anesthesia, meaning that you will not be awake during treatment. The therapy targets the prostate cancer itself without destroying the entire prostate. Focal therapy options at Stanford Health Care include:
- High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU): HIFU is a promising new therapy that uses sound waves to heat and eliminate tumors. The therapy preserves the surrounding nerves, blood vessels, and muscles that are critical for sexual function and urinary continence. Stanford Health Care is one of the few hospitals on the West Coast that offer HIFU for prostate cancer.
- Magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS or MRgHIFU): MRgFUS is similar to HIFU, except you receive the treatment while lying in an MRI scanner. The MRI guides your doctor with detailed images and monitors tissue temperature during treatment using MR thermometry.
- Transurethral ultrasound ablation (TULSA): Guided by advanced imaging, your doctor uses a robotically controlled ultrasound to heat and destroy the cancer cells. The use of imaging during the procedure helps your doctor target prostate cancer while protecting the surrounding healthy tissue.
- MRI-guided cryoablation: During cryoablation, we kill the cancer by freezing the cells. A small, metal tool placed in the tumor applies extremely cold temperatures to the cancer cells. During the procedure, you will lie in an MRI scanner so that we can carefully monitor the treated area.
Cancer medications treat the entire body with cancer-fighting medicine to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells. Your doctor may recommend that you receive the medications as an injection into your blood vessels, muscles, or skin or in pill form.
We use several types of cancer medication, including:
- Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy blocks the production of certain hormones that fuel prostate cancer. These medications help stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. Hormone therapy is a treatment option for many prostate cancers.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy refers to a group of strong medications that stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. There are multiple types of chemotherapy that each work in unique ways to attack cancer.
- Immunotherapy: immunotherapy stimulates the immune system to fight cancer and may be an option for some patients whose prostate cancer has specific features that make it sensitive to the immune system
- Radiopharmaceuticals: Radiopharmaceuticals are a class of medications that treat cancer with targeted liquid radiation.
After you complete your prostate cancer treatment, your care team works with you to develop an ongoing care plan. Regular follow-up care is important in order to:
- Monitor your overall health
- Manage any remaining side effects, including sexual function
- Check for possible signs of the cancer coming back
We work closely with your primary care doctor throughout your treatment, providing updates on a regular basis. We continue this partnership after you finish treatment to coordinate your ongoing care for prostate cancer and any other health concerns.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials through the Stanford Cancer Institute.
Open trials refer to studies that are currently recruiting participants or that may recruit participants soon. Closed trials are not currently enrolling additional patients.