Prostate Cancer Treatment

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Prostate cancer treatment isn't one-size-fits-all. Often, you'll get to choose between radiation or surgery. Radiation kills the cancer but leaves your prostate in the body. Surgery completely removes the cancer and the prostate.

To make choices about your treatment, you'll need information and answers. Our team will give you the resources you need to feel confident in your care. And our experts have high-tech tools that give you options.

Powerful Prostate Cancer Treatments at UVA Health

Prostate cancer is often a slow growing cancer. In this case, you have a choice to act or to wait.

In other cases, we turn to the very latest tools and methods. We were one of the first hospitals in Virginia to offer a treatment option when prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

We offer expertise and options you can't find everywhere. For instance, we’re skilled in Brachytherapy plus, the most precise form of high-dose radiation therapy. Only a few hospitals in the U.S. offer this treatment.

We can also use advanced surgical approaches, such as robotic prostatectomy, to remove the prostate and make recovery quicker.

For every care plan, our specialists work together to optimize your quality of life after treatment.

Is it Prostate Cancer?

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. Talk to your doctor about getting a blood test called PSA every year. This test, plus a rectal exam, can catch cancer early. But you'll need a biopsy to confirm if it's cancer.

Not everyone wants to be checked for prostate cancer. So your doctor will talk with you about your own goals and preferences.

What is Active Surveillance?

You may choose to closely follow the cancer with your doctor. This is called active surveillance: It's an option if you:

  • Have early stage, low-grade prostate cancer that is growing slowly
  • Want to prioritize your quality of life over treatment for a while

Active surveillance requires:

  • PSA blood tests at least twice a year
  • Usually an MRI scan of your prostate
  • Repeat prostate biopsies to check on the cancer

The goal of active surveillance is to watch the cancer as long as it is safe. We can still cure it when the time comes for treatment.

Watchful Waiting vs Active Surveillance

Sometimes your doctor will recommend another option: Watchful Waiting. This means you never want or need to have curative treatment. Watchful Waiting and Active Surveillance are very different. You want to be sure you know which one is right for you.

Prostate Cancer Treatment Options 

At UVA Health, you'll find a range of prostate cancer treatment options so we can customize your care. These include:

  • Prostatectomy — surgery to remove the prostate, seminal vesicles, and sometimes lymph nodes 
  • Radiation (external beam or brachytherapy) —  kills the cancer in the prostate using targeted beams or seeds
  • Radiation isotope therapy for when prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body
  • Focal therapy — uses energy to kill the cancer in one part of prostate. We don't need to remove or radiate it.
  • Hormone therapy — blocks the hormones that cause cells, including cancer cells, to grow
  • Vaccine therapy — boosts your immune system
  • Targeted therapy — drugs that attack proteins that drive cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation — to relieve pain from disease that's spread to bone


You can benefit from two different kinds of this intense, targeted radiation. Only a few hospitals in the country have this approach. Find out if you're a candidate for high-dose radiation brachytherapy.

Treatment Spotlight: da Vinci® Robotic Surgery

We were one of the first medical centers in Virginia to offer the da Vinci robotic prostatectomy.

This procedure uses a miniature camera and robotic “hands.” Your doctor inserts them into the body through a series of tiny incisions. These tools ensure steadiness and precision. Your doctor can see better and avoid damage to nearby nerves and muscles. This form of surgery:

  • Reduces blood loss
  • Increases healing
  • Offers good results for urinary control and sexual function recovery

Common Cancer for Older Men

Urologist Noah Schenkman, MD, discusses the symptoms and treatments of prostate cancer. View prostate cancer transcript.