Management or treatment of prostate cancer

There are different options for managing and treating prostate cancer. Your treating specialist will advise you of your options based on your age, general health, the stage and grade of the prostate cancer, the severity of symptoms and the likely side effects of treatment. 

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Making management or treatment decisions

Prostate cancer is typically slow-growing, giving men time to make decisions regarding their management or treatment options.

Sometimes it is difficult to decide on the type of management or treatment that is right for you. You may feel that everything is happening too fast. Take as much time as you need. Making sure you understand enough about your diagnosis, the treatment options and their side effects will help you make an informed decision in consultation with your GP and/or urologist.

If you are offered a choice of management or treatment, you will need to:

  • weigh up their advantages and disadvantages
  • consider how important any possible side effects are to you
  • think about the cost and availability of treatment (some treatments, such as brachytherapy and robotic-assisted surgery, are only available in some locations and may cost more).

If you have a partner, you may also want to talk about treatment options with him or her. You can also talk to friends and family or men you know who have had prostate cancer. If only one type of treatment is recommended, ask your doctor to explain why other treatment choices have not been offered. You also have the right to accept or refuse any treatment offered.

Some men with more advanced prostate cancer may choose treatment even if it only offers a small benefit for a short period of time. Such options often won’t cure the cancer but may slow its progress and improve quality of life.

Management or treatment options by stage

The treatment you have will depend on a number of factors including the stage of the cancer, your general health and your preferences.


Locally advanced

Advanced/metastic (at diagnosis)

What if I am in a same sex relationship?

Recognition and validation of your sexuality is a crucial part of receiving support. Your clinical team should be able to openly discuss your needs and support you through treatment. Try to find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable talking about your sexuality and relationships.

If you have a partner, encourage him to come to medical appointments with you. This will show your doctor who’s important to you and will enable your partner to be included in discussions and treatment plans.

For more information, contact Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) on 1800 22 00 99 or to request a free copy of the Prostate Cancer Pack: Information for Gay and Bisexual Men. PCFA also have support groups for gay and bisexual men.

Talking with doctors

When your doctor first tells you that you have cancer, you may not remember the details about what you are told. Taking notes or recording the discussion may help. Many people like to have a family member or friend go with them to take part in the discussion, take notes or simply listen.

If you are confused or want clarification, you can ask questions – see Questions for your doctor for a list of suggested questions. If you have several questions, you may want to talk to a nurse or ask the office manager if it is possible to book a longer appointment.

A second opinion

You may want to get a second opinion from another specialist to confirm or clarify your doctor’s recommendations or reassure you that you have explored all of your options. Specialists are used to people doing this.

Your doctor can refer you to another specialist and send your initial results to that person. You can get a second opinion even if you have started treatment or still want to be treated by your first doctor. You might decide you would prefer to be treated by the doctor who provided the second opinion.

Taking part in a clinical trial

Your doctor or nurse may suggest you take part in a clinical trial. Doctors run clinical trials to test new or modified treatments and ways of diagnosing disease to see if they are better than current methods. For example, if you join a randomised trial for a new treatment, you will be chosen at random to receive either the best existing treatment or the modified new treatment.

Over the years, trials have improved treatments and led to better outcomes for people diagnosed with cancer.

It may be helpful to talk to your specialist or clinical trials nurse, or get a second opinion. If you decide to take part, you can withdraw at any time.

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This information was last reviewed in April 2016
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