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Prostate cancer treatment: Does initial treatment preclude others later?

Medically reviewed on August 8, 2018

For most initial prostate cancer treatments, the answer is no. For instance, if your initial treatment is surgery to remove the prostate (prostatectomy), other treatments, such as radiation therapy and hormone therapy, may be options for you later, if necessary.

However, if you choose radiation therapy or cold therapy (cryosurgery) as an initial treatment, surgery may not be an option later because of the risk of complications.

Radiation therapy and cryosurgery cause changes to the prostate and surrounding tissues that make later surgery to remove the prostate (salvage prostatectomy) very difficult. Salvage prostatectomy carries a significantly increased risk of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, as well as a risk of injury to nearby structures, such as your rectum.

Salvage prostatectomy can be performed with careful planning at specialized medical centers, but it isn't an option for everyone. Your doctor may recommend other treatments, such as hormone therapy, before considering salvage prostatectomy.

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