Is Prostate Cancer Curable?
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men, second only to skin cancer. Learning that one has any type of cancer isn’t easy, but the first question on most patients’ minds after diagnosis is, “is prostate cancer curable?”
The short answer is yes, prostate cancer can be cured, when detected and treated early. The vast majority of prostate cancer cases (more than 90 percent) are discovered in the early stages, making the tumors more likely to respond to treatment. Treatment doesn’t always have to mean surgery or chemotherapy, either. Non-invasive radiation therapy can effectively treat prostate cancer; in the case of Pasadena CyberKnife, radiosurgery treatment generally takes less than a week, and you can typically resume your normal activities the same day you receive treatment.
Prostate Cancer Survival Rates
Answering the question of “how curable is prostate cancer?” first requires understanding what doctors mean when they refer to curability. Regardless of the type of cancer, doctors consider cancer “cured” when a patient remains cancer-free for a specified period after treatment. The higher the number of patients who stay cancer-free for five years or longer, the higher the curability of that particular disease.
Prostate cancer, therefore, has one of the highest curability rates of all types of cancer, thanks in large part to early detection standards and advances in treatment, such as the stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) offered by Pasadena CyberKnife. When the cancer is detected in the early local or regional stages — that is, before the cancer has spread or when it has only spread to limited areas in the pelvic regions — the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent.
Survival rates decline significantly when cancer is detected at later stages; however, the good news is that only about five percent of men are diagnosed after the cancer has become widespread throughout the body. In short, more than 90 percent of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer live for five years or longer after treatment, making it one of the most curable forms of cancer.
Prostate Cancer Staging
The stage of a patient’s cancer is a primary factor in determining both prognosis and treatment. Most doctors use the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TMN staging protocol. This system evaluates the local extent of the cancer (the T level), as well as the extent of spread to regional lymph nodes (N) and how the cancer has metastasized — or spread — to the rest of the body (M). Each category has its own levels and subcategories, and the combination of factors specifies the extent of the disease. More specifically:
T Stages: Rated on a scale of 1 to 4. T1 indicates that the tumor can only be detected via imaging or biopsy, while T4 indicates cancer that has spread to local tissue.
N Stages: Rated X, 0, and 1. An X rating means that the lymph nodes weren’t examined, 0 means the cancer has not spread, and 1 indicates cancer in the nearby lymph nodes.
M Stages: Rate M0, or M1a, M1b, or M1c. M0 indicates that the cancer has not spread beyond the regional lymph nodes. M1a indicates spread to the lymph nodes, M1b indicates spread to the bones, and M1c means the cancer is present in other organs.
In addition to evaluating the size and extent of the tumor and spread of the cancer cells, staging also depends on PSA levels and the Gleason score, which measures how the prostate tissue compares to normal healthy tissue and likelihood the cancer will spread.
Doctors use the combination of the TMN stages, PSA level, and Gleason scores to determine the cancer stage. For example, a patient with a T1, N0, M0, and a Gleason score of 6 and PSA of 10 is considered a stage 1 patient, and has a very high likelihood of being cured. Similarly, a patient with a T4 and any combination of M, N, PSA, and Gleason score (or M1 or N1 and any other variables) is considered a stage 4 patient, and therefore requires treatment that is more aggressive. Again, though, most patients are diagnosed in the early stages (1 or 2) thanks to recommended PSA testing for all men over age 50, making prostate cancer curable.
Treatment protocols often influence whether a patient’s prostate cancer is curable or not. Doctors may choose from a number of treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, either brachytherapy (in which radiation is delivered internally by “seeds” or wires implanted in the affected areas) or external, such as CyberKnife.
Thanks to its pinpoint accuracy, CyberKnife is often the safest and most effective option for men in the early stages of prostate cancer, as it has the same cure rate as a radical prostatectomy. Not only is it non-invasive and pain free, there are fewer unpleasant side effects than with other treatment options — in fact, you may be able to avoid surgery or chemotherapy altogether by opting to go with CyberKnife.
The most common type of radiation therapy for prostate cancer is external body radiation therapy (EBRT). Modern EBRT encompasses several types of radiation therapy, including SBRT. These therapies are designed to focus radiation on the tumor while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. Southern California cancer patients have access to SBRT technology at Pasadena CyberKnife, which allows them to complete radiation therapy in a matter of days, rather than the weeks required for traditional therapy. With this therapy, most patients can expect to be cured of their cancer in just one to five sessions, as opposed to the 35 to 43 sessions over five to eight weeks in other types of radiation therapy.
Call Now to Start Treatment
Prostate cancer is curable, but only if you take the first step toward an effective treatment plan. Call our center at 626-768-1021 or fill out our convenient Web form to schedule your consultation and learn about your options with Pasadena CyberKnife.