How do they treat cancer? Smaller text Larger text


When a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer (PCa), he enters a twilight world. Usually in a state of shock at hearing the dreaded “C” word, the patient also is confronted with the additional burden of making an Informed Choice of treatment. For advice on how to determine treatment choice go to our Newly Diagnosed page to help you make an Informed Choice and ask the right questions of a clinical specialist.

Here is a list of treatments:


Powerful drugs, normally administered intra-venously and which may be used if the cancer has spread or hormone treatment has started to wear off.


Where hollow needles are inserted into the prostate and gases producing sub zero temperatures are used to freeze the prostate and kill the cancerous cells . Mainly used for salvage treatment after radiotherapy.

Hormone Therapy

May be used in conjunction with other therapies or on its own. Seeks to halt the production of testosterone (which encourages the tumour in the prostate cancer to grow) in the body. May involve tablets or injections of hormones or minor surgery to the testicles.

Hi Intensity Focused Ultra Sound (HIFU)

A new treatment still at an eraly stage in the UK but viewed as an important option for the future. Carried out under spinal or general anaesthetic. A probe, incorporating an ultrasound scanner, is passed into the rectum. The probe emits a beam of ultrasound which is focused to reach a high intensity in the target area. Absorption of the energy creates an increase in temperature which destroys tissue. A cooling balloon protects the surrounding area from colateral tissue damage. May be used as a primary or salvage treatment and can be repeated if necessary. Treatment only takes between 1 and 3 hours.

Radiotherapy (including Brachytherapy)

An alternative to surgery whereby radiation, usually administered in a series of treatments, is accurately targeted at the prostate and surrounding area to destroy cancerous cells. This includes Brachytherapy (link has more information), a technique where radio-active seeds, offering a slow and controlled release of irradiation, are implanted into the prostate by hollow needles, administered under anaesthetic.


Involving an operation carried out under general anaesthetic (Radical Prostatectomy) to remove the whole of the prostate gland. This is more commonly done now as a key- hole procedure (Laproscopic).There are recently developed techniques which seek to minimise the trauma and impacts of this long-established procedure. This procedure via laproscopic procedure is increasingly being done by Robotic machinery in England  (da Vinci) and Scotland are hoping to get their first robot machine very soon. Robot technology provides greater consistency of result and more accuracy.

Active Surveillance

The new guidelines from NICE (click HERE ) on Active Surveillance are the basis of the treatment or not decison making (See Newly Diagnosed page for more information). Patients considering Active Surveillance who want to know about steps they can take to manage their PCa are also recommended to read “NATURAL APPROACHES TO PROSTATE CANCER”: A personal perspective by Christopher Garner, a member of Edinburgh & Lothian Prostate Cancer Support Group and available (while stocks last) from Maggie’s Centre at The Stables, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU or free download HERE.

See also the LINKS PAGE for more web sites with information on treatments.