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Understanding Treatment Choices for Prostate Cancer
US TOO International, Inc.
National Cancer Institute

Know Your Options
A Prostate Cancer Education Program

Table of Contents

What Is the Prostate Gland?
Is It Prostate Cancer?
     Grading the Cancer
     Staging the Cancer
     Lymph Nodes
     Second Opinions
Making Treatment Choices
Treatment Options for Localized Disease
     Watchful Waiting
          The procedure
          Possible problems
     Radiation Therapy
        External beam radiation therapy
          Possible problems
         Internal radiation therapy
          Possible problems
Treatment Options for Disease That Has Spread
        Hormonal Therapy
          Possible problems
         Clinical Trials
          Early hormonal therapy
          Conformal radiation therapy
         Complementary Therapies
Considering Your Chances of Survival
        Stage I and Stage II
        Stage III
        Stage IV
Pain Management
The Decision Is Yours
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
Followup Care

When my doctor said, "General, you have prostate cancer," I was thrust into an immediate and fearful state of confusion. I can still recall my inability to move a muscle for what seemed like an eternity after hearing my diagnosis.

As I look back, I am thankful for the many resources available to me: my doctor's skill and the unwavering support of my family and loved ones. But another resource I am most thankful for was the availability of an abundance of information that helped me plan my own fight against this dreaded disease.

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
US Army (retired)
Commander in Chief, United States Central Command
Operation Desert Sheild / Desert Storm


This year in the United States, almost 180,000 men will be told that they have prostate cancer.

After a diagnosis of prostate cancer, a man and his family face several choices regarding treatment. Decisions involve many factors, personal as well as medical. Before making these decisions, it a very important that he learns about all the options available.

This booklet can help a man and his family understand what a diagnosis of prostate cancer means and what treatment choices are offered. It suggests questions to ask the doctor and identifies other resources for more information. To help you understand the meaning of the words you will hear used to describe your cancer, medical terms are printed in bold type and are explained in the Glossary section at the back of this booklet.

With this knowledge, a newly diagnosed prostate cancer patient can participate more confidently with his doctor in planning his individual treatment.

Doctor talking to a man and woman


Prostate cancer is common to older men. By age 50, about one-third of American men have microscopic signs of prostate cancer. By age 75, half to three-quarters of men will have some cancerous changes in their prostate glands. Most of these cancers remain latent, producing no signs of symptoms, or are so indolent, or slow-growing, that they never become a serious threat to health.

A much smaller number of men will actually be treated for prostate cancer. About 16 percent of American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lives; 8 percent will develop significant symptoms; and 3 percent will die of the disease.

Until the last several years, prostate cancer death rates had been rising steadily. For example, this cancer in 1932 killed 17 of every 100,000 American men. By 1991, this number had reached 25 in 100,000. Since then, however, the death rates have been declining. The reasons for both the earlier increase and the recent decline in the prostate cancer death rates are unclear.

<<Glossary What is the Prostate Gland?>>
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