Your father's prostate has cancer in it. Unfortunately, that cancer has already started to spread outside of his prostate too.
If they thought that the cancer was completely contained in the prostate, then they could take out the prostate by surgery (and with it all the cancer) and hopefully that would be a cure. They can never say with 100% confidence that they got it all, because some cancer cells might have escaped already through the bloodstream or lymph system and are sitting quietly in some other part of the body waiting to grow later. But surgery would be a good option - not the only option, but a good one.
Unfortunately, they have good reason to believe that your father's cancer has already spread outside his prostate. If they take out his prostate by surgery, there will still be some cancer cells left in him and that is not good. Your father will have had major surgery but it still didn't fix the problem.
So they are proposing to radiate your father's prostate area, that is, his prostate and the immediately surrounding area. Hopefully that radiation will kill the cancer cells in your father's prostate and the cancer cells that are outside the prostate but still near the prostate. If that happens, they believe that will be better than surgery and may buy your father a lot of time. Again, they can never be 100% certain.
There are alternatives to radiation (other than surgery) and treatments in addition to radiation but I will let others talk to you about them.
Good luck. It's very normal to worry, but your father may very well live a long time yet.
No family history of PC. PSA reading in 2000 was around 3.0 . Annual PSA readings gradually rose; no one said anything to me until my PSA reached 4.0 in September 2007, at which point my internist advised me to see a urologist.
Urologist advised a repeat PSA reading in six months = 4.0 . Diagnosed May 2008 at age 56 as a result of 12 core biopsy. Biopsy report by Bostwick Laboratories = Gleason 3 + 3.
Interviewed two urologists - the one who did the biopsy and another - the latter had the biopsy slides re-examined = Gleason 3 + 3.
Then went to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in July 2008 and met with a urologist and a radiologist. Biopsy slides re-examined yet again, this time by MDA's internal pathology department = Gleason 3 + 4.
Chose da Vinci surgery over proton beam therapy; surgery performed at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center on August 15, 2008. Post-operative pathology report = four tumors, carcinoma contained in prostate, clean (negative) margins, lymph nodes clear, seminal vesicles clear. Gleason = 4 + 3.
Minor temporary incontinence; current extent of ED uncertain due to lack of sexual partner; refused treatments for ED as being pointless under the circumstances.
November 2008 = <0.1 ["undetectable"]
June 2009 = <0.1
December 2009 = <0.1
Post Edited (Zen9) : 12/14/2009 9:09:41 AM (GMT-7)