Radiotherapy vs Prostate Cancer Surgery

When you receive a prostate cancer diagnosis, you may find yourself facing a litany of treatment options. The interventions available to you may depend on underlying health conditions, your physical state, and the nature of your cancer. While some studies may point towards one treatment providing better results than another, it's important to understand the differences between radiotherapy and prostate cancer surgery before making a final decision.

The jury is still out on both

An analysis of 19 studies by the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto suggests that prostate cancer surgery results in fewer deaths than using radiotherapy alone. This applies to localised prostate cancer, which means it's within the prostate only. However, no randomised controlled trials examining the benefits of either approach exist. As RCTs remain as the gold standard for identifying which of two treatments is better, it's still difficult to say which option is more effective. Comparing two trials is problematic, as one may have a subject group that's naturally fitter than the other, thereby giving them an unfair advantage. In addition, time differences between trials may mean that an intervention such as radiotherapy is now better, making it an unfair comparison.

Surgical interventions are excellent for removing localised cells

Prostate cancer surgery is excellent at tackling cancerous cells within the prostate. Your surgeon will usually take a radical approach, which means removing the prostate, nearby seminal vesicles, and possibly some lymph nodes. However, if the surgery aims to preserve the nerves that provide erections, there's a possibility of it missing microscopic cells in these areas.

Radiotherapy may tackle microscopic disease

When using high dose radiotherapy there's a better chance of tackling microscopic disease. This comes with the benefit of leaving the nerves that provide erections intact, allowing your medical team to attack cancer that lies outside the prostate gland effectively. However, it's also worth noting that intense modulated radiotherapy is a new approach, which means the medical world isn't sure of its long-term efficacy, yet.

Your team will likely tailor your plan

There's no denying that surgery and radiotherapy both come with perks and pitfalls, which means your surgical team will likely devise a plan that's unique to your circumstances. You may find they recommend radiotherapy alongside surgery, or even approaches such as hormone restriction.

If you want to know more about your options, arrange a meeting with the team leading your case. When you understand more about the choices available, you can choose one that best suits your health.