Description Advantages Disadvantages
Watchful Waiting
  • No treatment.
  • Frequent check-ups to evaluate condition.
  • Avoid the side effects of prostate cancer treatments.
  • May reduce the chance of controlling the disease before it spreads.


  • An outpatient procedure in which radioactive 'seeds' are carefully placed inside cancerous tissue and positioned to attack the cancer most effectively.
  • Proven to be very effective and safe.
  • Provides a good alternative to surgery while reducing the risk of long-term side effects.
  • New technology has reduced radiation exposure hazards.
  • The optimum way of tailoring radiotherapy to the tumor without harming surrounding normal tissue.
  • Some soreness and swelling in the treatment area. It is usually mild and lasts for several days.
  • May experience frequent, urgent or uncomfortable urination - symptoms that decrease in severity over time.
  • A small chance of becoming incontinent or impotent.


  • An outpatient procedure that destroys cancer by freezing the tumor and a surrounding rim of health tissue.
  • Recent studies show that 97% of cryosurgery patients are cancer-free at 1 year and 82% are cancer-free at 5 years following surgery.
  • Cryosurgery usually can be repeated safely if cancer returns.
  • A safe, effective procedure for patients who cannot tolerate surgery or radiation - and those who are elderly.
  • One of the few potentially curative treatments that can be offered for localized prostate cancer recurrence after radiation therapy or brachytherapy.
  • Most patients report very little discomfort and recover fully within days.
  • The urethral warming device reduces incontinence or urethral obstruction to about 1% of patients.
  • There is an 85% chance that nerve damage resulting from the freeze will cause impotence. However, nerve-sparing techniques are being developed to help reduce that risk.
  • Removal of the prostate through an incision or incisions in the back or perineum.
  • For patients in good health whose tumor is confined to the prostate.
  • 10-year survival rate ranges from 75% to 97% for patients in good health.
  • Possible complications include rectal injury, incontinence, impotence and heart failure.
  • Dry orgasms result.
  • Lower survival rate for patients with poorly differentiated cancers.
  • High-powered linear accelerators send x-rays deep into the body to destroy tumor cells by damaging their DNA.
  • Often effective for managing symptoms of cancer that has spread.
  • Helpful in relieving pain related to cancer that has spread to the bones.
  • A short course of no longer than two weeks is sufficient in most cases.
  • Increased urinary frequency. Mild burning with urination.
  • Mild diarrhea, gas, bowel urgency and tenderness.
  • Bowel irritability including mild irritation of the skin around the rectum. About 20% of men experience more significant long-term bowel irritability.
  • Red, dry, and tender skin in the treated area.
  • Hair loss.
  • May cause impotence.
Radionuclide Therapy
  • Radioactive drugs are injected intravenously and absorbed by the bones.
  • For treatment of prostate cancer that has spread to the bones.
  • Decreased white and red blood cells possible, also platelets.
  • Increase in pain may occur in first days or week after treatment.
Hormonal Therapy
  • Drugs and surgical procedures (including orchiectomy, or castration) to block the male hormones that prostate cancer cells need to grow.
  • Prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body can usually be controlled for a period of time.
  • Often causes impotence, hot flashes and loss of sexual desire.
  • Can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and breast growth or tenderness.
  • Can weaken bones in older men.
  • May cause liver problems.
  • An aggressive treatment using carefully controlled dosages of drugs to destroy cancer cells.
  • Can improve symptoms and quality of life for men with advanced prostate cancer.
  • Many side effects, including fatigue, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss and increased susceptibility to infection.
  • Has not proven very effective against slow-growing cancer cells.