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Treatments for localized prostate cancer

Localized prostate cancer (at stages T1 and T2) can be treated using a variety of methods, depending on the characteristics of the disease and the patient's preferences.

Active Surveillance

When prostate cancer is localized with low risk of evolution, an active surveillance strategy can be proposed. The goal is to delay treatments and associated side effects (urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction). Medical check-ups will be set at regular intervals (PSA blood test, rectal examination, MRI and prostate biopsy) and a specific treatment will be prescribed as soon as a progression of the disease is detected (according to therapeutic options detailed below).

Radical prostatectomy – surgeryRadical prostectomy

Radical prostatectomy (or total prostatectomy) involves surgically removing of the prostate and the seminal vesicles. It is a major surgery performed under general anesthesia which requires one or more incisions (cutting of the skin and tissues to reach the organ), depending on the technique used (open abdominal or laparoscopic prostatectomy). Hospitalization time varies between 5 and 7 days, with a subsequent recovery time of about 3 to 4 weeks. The main side effects are impotence (the inability to have or maintain an erection) and incontinence (the inability to retain urine).

External radiotherapy - Radiation treatment

The patient is subjected to a high dose of radiation directed at the prostate. This radiation destroys the cells by causing lesions in their DNA. The treatment is divided into approximately 40 sessions over a period of 6 to 8 weeks, working on the basis of a five-day week. During each session, which lasts around 20 minutes, the patient remains immobile on the treatment table while the machine delivers the radiation. The treatment is painless. The main side effects are impotence (i.e. an inability to achieve or maintain an erection), which can occur even several months after treatment, and intestinal disorders such as pain, colic and bleeding.

Curietherapy, radium therapy or brachytherapy - radioactive implants

BrachytherapyRadium therapy, also known as brachytherapy, involves temporarily or permanently implanting between 50 and 100 tiny seeds of radioactive material into the affected area. These seeds constantly emit radiation that destroys prostate cells by causing lesions in their DNA. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. When implanting the seeds, the surgeon is guided by an ultrasound scanner with a probe inserted into the patient's rectum. The potential side effects are essentially the same as with external beam radiotherapy.

Cryotherapy - cold-based treatment

Cryotherapy is a technique that freezes the prostate by inserting needles that generate temperatures below 0°C. The operation is performed under spinal or general anesthetic. When implanting the seeds, the surgeon is guided by an ultrasound scanner with a probe inserted into the patient's rectum.


Treatments for advanced prostate cancer

Hormone therapy

Hormone treatments are used for patients with cancer that extends beyond the limits of the prostate. Hormone treatment does not cure the cancer, but decreases the quantity of male hormones, especially testosterone, which then slows the disease's progression. Testosterone, which is produced by the testicles, stimulates the proliferation of cancerous prostate cells. The effect of hormones on prostate cancer is only temporary, and after around two years on average, patients develop a resistance to the hormones that makes the treatment ineffective.


Chemotherapy is used to treat patients who have shown resistance to hormones. This treatment decreases tumor growth and can also decrease pain related to cancer. The care team determines the place and days of treatment, as well as the drugs used, according to the patient’s choices. The total duration of the treatment is variable and takes place by successive cures. Drugs are more often injected by infusion. Chemotherapy usually takes place in a healthcare institution (hospital or clinic) on an outpatient basis. Associated side effects are those of any chemotherapy (nausea, vomiting, fatigue, loss of hair, loss of appetite ...).

Radiotherapy – X-ray treatment

In patients with metastatic cancer, radiotherapy can soothe the disease's symptoms and contain its spread.



Last update 9 february 2017.

  • Glossary
  • Biopsy
    Examination that involves removing small fragments of tissue from an organ in order to examine them under the microscope.
  • Chemotherapy
    Cancer treatment involving drugs that are toxic to cancerous cells.
  • Cryotherapy
    Localized treatment that uses cold to destroy the diseased organ.
  • Curietherapy (radium therapy)
    Localized treatment that destroys cells by inserting grains of radioactive material into the affected organ.
  • DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid)
    Molecule in a cell nucleus that contains the information required by an organism in order to develop and function.
  • External radiotherapy
    Localized cancer treatment that destroys cells by subjecting them to radioactive rays.
  • General anesthesia
    Puts a patient to sleep and induces a loss of sensation.
  • Hormone
    Substance secreted by a gland that affects the development or functioning of an organ.
  • Impotence
    Inability to achieve or maintain a sufficiently strong erection to allow sexual intercourse.
  • Incontinence
    Inability to refrain from urinating or defecating.
  • Prostate
    Gland in the male genital system that plays a role in semen production.
  • Radical prostatectomy
    Surgical procedure that completely removes the prostate.
  • Rectum
    Final section of the large intestine, ending at the anus.
  • Scanner
    X ray-based painless medical imaging technique that produces "sliced" images of the human body.
  • Seminal vesicles
    Glands connected to the prostate that produce the main constituent of seminal fluid.
  • Side effect
    Generally adverse secondary consequence of a treatment.
  • Testosterone
    Main male hormone produced by the testicles.
  • Tumor
    Mass of abnormal cells. A tumor may be either benign or malignant (cancer).
  • Ultrasound
    Painless medical imaging examination performed using an ultrasound scanner.
  • Urine
    Liquid produced by the kidneys that contains waste products not needed by the organism.
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