Prostate Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions

22. What kinds of treatments for prostate cancer are being developed?

Through research, doctors are trying to find new, more effective ways to treat prostate cancer. Cryosurgery -- destroying cancer by freezing it -- is under study as an alternative to surgery and radiation therapy. To avoid damaging healthy tissue, the doctor places an instrument known as a cryoprobe in direct contact with the tumor to freeze it.

Doctors are studying new ways of using radiation therapy and hormonal therapy, too. Studies have shown that hormonal therapy given after radiation therapy can help certain men whose cancer has spread to nearby tissues.

Scientists are also testing the effectiveness of chemotherapy and biological therapy for men whose cancer does not respond or stops responding to hormonal therapy.

They are also exploring new ways to schedule and combine various treatments. For example, they are studying hormonal therapy to find out if using it to shrink the tumor before a man has surgery or radiation might be a useful approach. They are also testing combinations of hormone therapy and vaccines to prevent recurrence of prostate cancer.

In 2010, the FDA approved a therapeutic cancer vaccine, Provenge, for use in some men with metastatic prostate cancer. This approval was based on the results of a clinical trial that demonstrated a more than 4-month improvement in overall survival compared with a placebo vaccine. Other similar vaccine therapies are in development.