How Does Castration Work to Treat Prostate Cancer?


Quick Answer

Castration treats prostate cancer by lowering the level of androgen hormones or stopping them from getting into prostate cancer cells, hence shrinking or slowing down the growth of prostate cancers, reports the American Cancer Society. The main androgens are usually testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, which are mostly produced in the testicles.

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Full Answer

Surgical castration, also known as orchiectomy, is advisable if the prostate cancer has metastasized too much to be cured by surgery or radiation, states the American Cancer Society. The procedure is also useful if the prostate cancer keeps coming back after treatment with surgery or radiation, or it can be used before radiation to try to shrink the cancerous cells to make the treatment more effective. Castration does not cure prostate cancer, but can help to slow the growth of cancer cells.

Usually an outpatient procedure, surgical castration is the least expensive and simplest means to reduce androgen levels in the body, notes the American Cancer Society. However, since it is permanent and many men have concerns about how it looks afterwards, most patients have trouble acquiescing to the removal of their testicles. To mitigate these fears, doctors can insert artificial silicone sacs, which look much like testicles, into the scrotum of the patients.

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