Diagnosis The biopsy performed by your urologist will tell you the Grade of cancer. Further tests will be required to find the Stage of the cancer.
- Grade: this will show how quickly the cancer may develop
- Stage: this will show the cancer’s size and how far it has spread
The results of all the tests are looked at together, giving an overall picture of the prostate cancer so treatment options can be discussed with you.
After diagnosis, it’s common for you to see a number of health professionals with different expertise who work together as a team, called a multidisciplinary or healthcare team. Team members bring different skills that inform decisions around your individual needs. Services are available for your partner or carer to assist and support them.
Your healthcare team is there to help you understand the different treatment options for prostate cancer and the best option for you.
The Prostate Gland
Common management and treatment options include:
- Active surveillance: For some men with localised prostate cancer, active surveillance is an option, but you will be regularly monitored with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, digital rectal examination (DRE) and occasional further biopsies. Treatment will be offered if the cancer progresses.
- Watchful waiting: For some men, various treatments may not be appropriate, but you will be regularly monitored and if symptoms develop, treatments will be offered to manage these symptoms.
- Radiation therapy: May be used to treat prostate cancer by using X-rays to destroy cancer cells. The two main types of radiotherapy are external beam radiotherapy or brachytherapy.
- Hormone therapy: Treatment with medications or an operation which reduce the male hormone (testosterone) to slow the growth of the cancer.
- Chemotherapy: Treatment with special drugs which destroy or control cancer cells.
Depending on your situation, some treatment options are used together.
Managing Side Effects
Side effects are reactions caused by the treatment, and not by the disease itself. All treatments for prostate cancer have side effects (e.g. continence issues, erectile difficulties, fatigue). People having the same prostate cancer treatment can experience side effects differently.
There are treatments available to manage unwanted side effects. It’s important that you discuss any side effects you may experience with members of your healthcare team (e.g. doctor, nurse) so they can provide you with the strategies and support you may need.
Prostate cancer has one of the highest survival rates in Australia. Around 9 in 10 (92%) men diagnosed with prostate cancer are alive 5 years after diagnosis.
Prostate Cancer in Australia, AIHW, 2013
When your treatment is finished, it is important for you to be well informed about the care you had and what to expect in the future.
As part of your ongoing care, follow-up appointments will be offered. You may have regular reviews with members of your healthcare team (e.g. specialist, GP, cancer care nurse) for information, support and advice.
This part of your cancer journey is about focussing on your health and quality of life. You can call on members of your healthcare team for information, support and advice.
For some people, their prostate cancer journey may include further support if the cancer becomes more advanced, and treatments become less effective. There are healthcare professionals and services to improve quality of life and other issues relating to your physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs.
What is prostate cancer?
- The prostate is a small gland below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is part of the male reproductive system.
- Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop in the prostate, forming a malignant tumour (cancerous growth). These cells have the potential to multiply in an uncontrolled way and can spread to nearby or distant parts of the body.
Different stages of prostate cancer
- Localised prostate cancer: The cancer is only found in the prostate gland. Sometimes it is also known as early-stage prostate cancer.
- Locally advanced prostate cancer: The cancer has extended beyond the prostate and may include seminal vesicles or other surrounding organs such as the bladder or rectum.
- Metastatic prostate cancer: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body such as bone.
What to expect on your cancer journey?
THROUGHOUT YOUR PROSTATE CANCER JOURNEY, YOU CAN EXPECT TO:
- see a number of healthcare professionals working together, called a multidisciplinary or healthcare team, who will make sure you get the appropriate care – the team includes health professionals who are involved in diagnosing your cancer, treating your cancer, managing symptoms and side effects, and assisting you with your feelings or concerns during your cancer journey
- be informed of the range of services (e.g. medical care, emotional support, financial assistance and peer support) that are available to you, your partner and family members.
BEFORE TREATMENT, YOU CAN EXPECT TO:
- be informed of all the test results (e.g. PSA, DRE, biopsy)
- see a healthcare professional (e.g. your doctor, urologist, cancer care nurse) who will explain the results to you
- be informed of the grade and stage of your prostate cancer
- be involved in decision-making about your treatment options
- be given details of all the appropriate treatment options that are available to you
- be given information about possible treatment side effects
- discuss your treatment options with your doctor and/or urologist
- be given information about what you may need to do to prepare for your treatment.
DURING TREATMENT, YOU CAN EXPECT TO:
- be given information about the treatment procedures
- be supported by your healthcare team during treatment
- be supported by your healthcare team in managing the side effects.
AFTER TREATMENT, YOU CAN EXPECT TO:
- have a care plan that will give you information about what follow-up tests, appointments, and care you will receive
- have your care plan reviewed when your needs have changed
- be supported by your healthcare team
- have check-ups to see if your treatment has caused any side effects
- be supported by peer groups or referred to appropriate services to help you manage any treatment side effects.
It is important that you get information and support that can assist you on your prostate cancer journey. The following organisations can provide you with accurate information and support about prostate cancer.
- Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA):
providing a range of information resources and peer support groups for men, their partners and families affected by prostate cancer.
Tel:(02) 9438 7000 / 1800 220 099 (freecall)
- Cancer Australia:
providing national leadership in cancer control and improving outcomes for Australians affected by cancer.
- Cancer Council Helpline:
a free, confidential telephone information and support service run by cancer councils in each state and territory.
Tel:13 11 20
￼Supporting men with prostate cancer through evidence-based resources and support is a Cancer Australia initiative, funded by the Australian Government.