Prostate Cancer common treatments

There are a number of ways to treat prostate cancer and below you will find a description of the techniques used to do so.


A prostatectomy is a surgical procedure in which the entire prostate is removed. It is a commonplace operation that can be carried out using traditional techniques or with the assistance of a robot. It has now been discovered that robotic surgery reduces post-operative pain and bleeding. However, the side effects remain similar to those that come with traditional surgery.

Indications Generally used with medium to high risk cancers.
Healthcare practitioner Urological surgeon
Medical intervention A one-off surgical intervention under general anaesthetic in the operating theatre. The operation takes 2–4 hours.

External Radiotherapy

In external radiotherapy, the ionizing rays are aimed to concentrate on the areas of the prostate that require treatment. The rays cause alterations in the DNA of cancer cells, causing them to die.

Indications Generally used for cancer with a medium to high risk or progression.
Healthcare practitioner Radiation Oncologist
Medical intervention Weekly sessions over several weeks. Each session of radiotherapy lasts 10–20 minutes.

Internal Radiotherapy – Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy is a form of internal radiation therapy where radioactive sources are inserted inside the prostate itself. The size of a grain of rice, these tiny sources emit radiation into an area a few millimeters in size. Typically, 60–100 sources are used, depending on the cancer to be treated. Remember that the radioactivity of the sources decreases over time.

Indications Generally used for localised cancers that aren’t particularly aggressive. For particularly aggressive cancers, it can be combined with external radiotherapy.
Healthcare practitioner Radiation Oncologist and Urologist
Medical intervention Operation under general anaesthetic (takes 2–3 hours) + regular follow-ups to monitor progression of treatment.


Treatment with cryotherapy is designed to kill cancer cells by freezing them. To do so, cryoablation needles are inserted into the prostate via the perineum. The needles produce cold which destroys cells while minimising the impact in surrounding tissue and organs.

Indications Generally used with localised cancer that is not particularly aggressive. It can also be used on cancer that comes back following a prostatectomy or course of radiotherapy.
Healthcare practitioner Urologist
Medical intervention Procedure generally performed under general anaesthetic, as outpatient. The procedure takes 1–2 hours.

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)

HIFU treatment uses high-intensity focused ultrasound to target and treat areas of the prostate affected by cancer. The concentrated ultrasound raises the temperature of the targeted area, destroying cancerous cells. It is a minimally invasive procedure.

Indications Localised, not particularly aggressive cancer. Please note: This treatment is still in the clinical research phase.
Healthcare practitioner Urologist
Medical intervention An outpatient procedure under local or general anaesthetic. The intervention usually takes 1–3 hours.


Chemotherapy is a treatment that is primarily recommended for advanced prostate cancers that have entered metastatic expansion. It halts cancer cells by preventing them from multiplying. It does not treat the cancer, but rather limits its progression and aggression. This means that chemotherapy is used alongside other more radical treatments that can completely remove or destroy the tumor.

Indications Aggressive metastatic cancer
Healthcare practitioner Oncologist
Medical intervention Treatment administered over several weeks, with drugs administered orally or intravenously under the oncologist’s supervision.

Active Surveillance

To find out more about this technique and what Koelis® technology can do, see our page on Active Surveillance.