About prostate cancer treatment

Surgery and radiation therapy are the most common treatments for prostate cancer, but there are several other options as well. Learn about the different treatments and what side effects to expect.

The approach to treating prostate cancer is different for each person and you may be feeling stressed about the pros and cons of different options. There is no such thing as the best prostate cancer treatment, instead there is the right treatment for your situation. Fortunately, you can always talk to your doctor and discuss the treatment options for prostate cancer before jumping into any decisions.

Before choosing a treatment option take time to carefully think about the things that are most important to you. Each treatment is different so understanding each and any risks involved is key. Asking some necessary questions and reviewing the options below with your doctor will help lead you to make the right decisions for the best prostate cancer treatment for you. It’s also completely fine if you’d like to seek a second opinion and talk to another doctor about your thoughts and questions.

With all that in mind, let’s dive into the various types of prostate cancer treatment.

Surgery: radical prostatectomy

A radical prostatectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the entire prostate gland. If the cancer has spread, surrounding tissues and nerves may also need removal. In some cases, a surgeon uses a robot to assist with the surgery.

There are two main types of radical prostatectomy: open surgery and laparoscopic surgery. The former involves a larger incision, while the latter is minimally invasive with smaller incisions.

Learn about prostate cancer surgery

Radiation therapy (radiotherapy)

Radiation therapy destroys cancer cells using high-energy rays. Radiation therapy for prostate cancer can take several forms:

  • External beam radiation therapy directs high-energy rays at the cancer cells from a machine outside the body.

  • Alternatively, a procedure known as low-dose-rate brachytherapy can be employed, where radioactive seeds or pellets are surgically positioned in or near the cancerous site to eliminate the cancer cells.

  • High-dose-rate brachytherapy, another method, involves the insertion of thin tubes into the prostate gland, through which radiation is passed directly into the prostate.

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), lowers testosterone levels in the body, slowing down the growth of prostate cancer cells.

While it can't cure prostate cancer alone, ADT is commonly used alongside other prostate cancer treatments, to help fight cancer cells.

Learn about hormone therapy for prostate cancer


Potentially the most well-known prostate cancer treatment, chemotherapy involves special drugs designed to shrink or eliminate cancer cells. These can be taken orally or administered through infusion.

Learn about chemotherapy for prostate cancer

Active surveillance and watchful waiting

Active surveillance and watchful waiting both involve closely monitoring the progression of prostate cancer without immediate treatment. The difference lies in their intensity and purpose.

Active surveillance

Active surveillance for prostate cancer is more rigorous and often used for men with longer life expectancies where there's a risk of cancer progressing. Tools like blood tests, digital rectal exams (DRE), imaging tests, and biopsies are used.

Learn about active surveillance

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting involves less intense monitoring and is usually recommended for older patients or those with other severe health conditions.

Learn about watchful waiting

High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), cryotherapy and immunotherapy

High-intensity focused ultrasound

High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a therapeutic approach that targets high-energy sound waves, or ultrasound, at cancerous cells to eliminate them. The treatment can be directed either at the specific tumour or at the entire prostate depending on the extent of the cancer.

Learn about HIFU


This involves placing a special probe inside the body to freeze and kill the prostate cancer cells.

Learn about cryotherapy


Immunotherapy boosts your body’s natural defence system to help target cancer cells. Immunotherapy is a newer treatment for prostate cancer, so how well it works, and its side effects are still being understood.

Learn about immunotherapy

Treatments used in clinical trials

You might want to consider taking part in a clinical trial where the latest prostate cancer treatments are used.

As part of these trials doctors test new, potentially ground-breaking therapies, drugs, or fresh approaches to prostate cancer treatment that are not yet in the mainstream.

While in the trial, your health team keeps a close eye on your progress, observing how well these new treatments are working for you. One thing to note—these trials can vary depending on where you live, so it's a good idea to have a chat with your oncologist or urologist to find out what's available for you.

What is the most effective treatment for prostate cancer

The best treatment option for prostate cancer will vary from person to person and depends on what stage the cancer is. It is best to consult with your doctor on the prostate cancer treatment options that will be right for you, so that you can understand the risks and side effects of each and make an informed decision.

Side effects of prostate cancer treatment

The side effects you may experience when undergoing prostate cancer treatment will vary depending on the type of treatment you receive.

    Common side effects include:

  • Fatigue.

  • Erectile dysfunction.

  • Urinary problems.

  • Bowel issues after radiation therapy.

  • Hot flushes after hormone therapy.

  • Depression, stress, and anxiety.

  • Changes to how you feel about your manhood, and more.

Remember that each person's journey with prostate cancer is different. This guide is intended to provide a comprehensive overview and understanding of the many treatment options for prostate cancer. Always consult with your healthcare provider for advice that best suits your situation.