DOCTORS are urging patients diagnosed with prostate cancer to thoroughly consider all their options before choosing a treatment plan.
If the prostate cancer is categorised as low-grade on the Gleason score, meaning it has not spread out much, it can progress at a very slow rate, and sometimes even lay dormant for ten years, according to medical studies in Scandinavia.
“In most low-grade cases there is no real rush to make a decision about the cancer,” says radiation oncologist Dr Raphael Chee.
“There is time to consider options and I would encourage patients to speak to specialists and get a second and third opinion about how aggressive it is and what behaviour patterns it is showing.
“For a lot of prostate cancers you can look at surgery and radiotherapy which tend to give similar outcomes.
“Patients need to chat with surgeons and radiation oncologists about the best option for their particular situation.”
Some critics argue that the prostate specific antigen screening program is inefficient with only one of ten patients red-flagged actually having cancer, meaning men often have to undergo a biopsy and unnecessary stress.
“If you’re the one of the ten who have cancer then you want to know, because if you catch it early then there is a lot we can do and the chance of cure and long term control are very high,” says Dr Chee.
“In the past it was hard to detect which patients need treatment for prostate cancer and which didn’t.
“The difficulty with prostate cancer is that the behaviour pattern is quite varied: you may get somebody diagnosed with prostate cancer but it behaves in a very benign fashion and in the lifetime of that patient it may not trouble them and they may not need any treatment at all.
“But there are some prostate cancers that are quite aggressive and those patients may well need treatment rather than the ‘watch and wait’ approach.”
Radiation therapy for prostate cancer is non-invasive and typically consists of 10-minute daily sessions for eight weeks.
Genesis CancerCare’s central hub is located at Perth Radiation Oncology in Wembley, but there are three other treatment facilities across Bunbury, Joondalup and Murdoch.
Genesis CancerCare radiation oncologists are some of the leading practitioners in radiation therapy.