What is localised prostate cancer?

Localised prostate cancer is cancer that’s inside the prostate and hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. You may also hear it called early or organ-confined prostate cancer, or stage T1 or T2 prostate cancer.

Most localised prostate cancer grows slowly – or doesn’t grow at all – and has a low risk of spreading. So it may never cause you any problems or affect how long you live. Because of this, localised prostate cancer might not need treatment. You might be able to have your cancer monitored with regular check-ups instead. This is to make sure the cancer isn’t growing more quickly than expected.

But some men will have cancer that grows quickly and has a high risk of spreading. This is more likely to cause problems and needs treatment to stop it spreading outside the prostate.

What do my test results mean?

Your results will help your doctor understand how quickly your cancer might grow and whether  it has spread. This will help you and your doctor to discuss what treatments might be suitable for you.

Read more about what your test results might mean.

What are my treatment options?

Most localised prostate cancer often grows slowly and might not need treatment. You may be able to have your cancer monitored with regular check-ups instead. If you decide to have treatment, it will usually aim to get rid of the cancer.

The two ways of monitoring localised prostate cancer are:

The main treatments for localised prostate cancer are:

You might also be offered high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) or cryotherapy, but they are less common.

Your doctor or nurse will talk you through your treatment options and help you choose the right type of monitoring or treatment for you. You might not be able to have all of the treatments listed. There’s no overall best treatment for localised prostate cancer, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. Read more about choosing a treatment.

What will happen after my treatment?

You will have regular check-ups during and after your treatment to check how well it is working. You may hear them called follow-up appointments. You’ll have regular PSA blood tests – ask the people treating you how often you’ll have these. If your PSA level goes down this usually suggests your treatment is working.

Tell your doctor or nurse about any side effects you’re getting. There are usually ways to manage side effects.

Make sure you have the details of someone to contact if you have any questions or concerns between check-ups. This might be your specialist nurse or key worker. You can also speak to our Specialist Nurses.

Read more about follow up after prostate cancer treatments.

What is my outlook?

Many men will want to know how successful their treatment is likely to be. This is sometimes called your outlook or prognosis. No one can tell you exactly what will happen, as it will depend on many things, such as the stage of your prostate cancer and how quickly it might grow, your age, and any other health problems. Speak to your doctor about your own situation.

Most localised prostate cancer is slow-growing and may not need treatment or shorten a man’s life. For many men who have treatment for localised prostate cancer, the treatment will get rid of the cancer. For some men, treatment may be less successful and the cancer may come back. If this happens, you might need further treatment

For more information about the outlook for men with prostate cancer, visit Cancer Research UK. The figures they provide are a general guide and they cannot tell you exactly what will happen to you. Speak to your doctor or nurse about your own situation.

Questions to ask your doctor or nurse

  • What is my Gleason score?
  • What is the stage of my cancer?
  • What treatments are suitable for me?
  • Could my cancer be monitored instead?
  • How quickly do I need to make a decision?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment?
  • What are the side effects?
  • How effective is my treatment likely to be?
  • What is the risk of my cancer coming back after treatment?
  • Can I see the results of treatments you’ve carried out?
  • Can I get copies of all my test results and letters about my treatment?
  • Are all of the treatments available at my local hospital?
  • If not, how could I have them?
  • Can I join any clinical trials?
  • If I have any questions or get any new symptoms, who should I contact?

References

Updated: July 2019To be reviewed: July 2021

  • List of references  

    • Hamdy FC, Donovan JL, Lane JA, Mason M, Metcalfe C, Holding P, et al. 10-Year Outcomes after Monitoring, Surgery, or Radiotherapy for Localized Prostate Cancer. N Engl J Med. 2016 Sep 14;
    • Mottet N, Van den Bergh RCN, Briers E, Bourke L, Cornford P, De Santis M, et al. EAU - ESTRO - ESUR - SIOG Guidelines on Prostate Cancer. European Association of Urology; 2018.
    • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Prostate Cancer: diagnosis and treatment. Full guideline 175. 2014.
    • Public Health England. Prostate cancer risk management programme (PCRMP): benefits and risks of PSA testing [Internet]. GOV.UK; 2016. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prostate-cancer-risk-management-programme-psa-test-benefits-and-risks/prostate-cancer-risk-management-programme-pcrmp-benefits-and-risks-of-psa-testing
  • List of reviewers  

    • Bev Baxter, Urology and Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Royal Derby Hospital, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust.
    • Ann Henry, Associate Professor in Clinical Oncology, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
    • Anup Patel, Consultant Urologist, Spire London East Hospital.
    • Philip Reynolds, Consultant Radiographer in Prostate Radiotherapy, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust
    • our Specialist Nurses
    • our Volunteers

Localised prostate cancer

Localised prostate cancer

This fact sheet is for men who have been diagnosed with localised prostate cancer – cancer that hasn't spread outside the prostate gland. It explains what localised prostate cancer is, what your test results mean, and the treatment options available.

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