How Do You Assure That The Equipment Is Functioning Properly
In addition to employing full-time board certified medical physicists, UC Davis also has a full-time clinical engineer and IT staff on site to assure that the radiation equipment functions properly. These experts work diligently to establish and validate the proper treatment plan and delivery prior to use.
Possible Side Effects Of Radiation Treatment
There are possible side effects associated with radiation therapy. Some people may not experience any side effects. Others may experience mild or bothersome side effects.
Some side effects may only last a short period of time, and others may last longer or forever. Side effects may occur at the time of treatment or could develop months after treatment.
Most side effects are manageable by your radiation team and last only a short time. Before starting treatment, your doctor will discuss possible side effects and their duration.
Because we use advanced targeting technology, the probability of side effects is lower.
Possible side effects include:
Bowel Issues Because radiation treatment is so close to the rectum, it could cause irritation. This irritation could cause soreness, blood in your stool, or rectal leakage. Most of the time these issues are temporary, but in rare cases, normal bowel function does not return. Because patients use a rectal balloon during each treatment, the likelihood of rectal issues is lower.
Urinary Issues Radiation can cause irritation to the bladder. This can cause urinary frequency, urgency and a burning sensation. If these problems occur, they generally go away after time.
Keeping your activity level up will result in less fatigue and feeling better.
Keeping your activity level up will result in less fatigue and you will feel better overall.
What Side Effects Will I Have
During your treatment, radiation must pass through your skin. You may notice some skin changes in the area exposed to radiation.
Your skin may become red, swollen, warm, and sensitive, as if you have a sunburn. It may peel or become moist and tender. Depending on the dose of radiation you receive, you may notice hair loss or less sweat within the treated area.
These skin reactions are common and temporary. Theyâll fade gradually within 4 to 6 weeks after you finish your treatment. If you notice any skin changes outside the treated area, tell your doctor or nurse.
Long-term side effects, which can last up to a year or longer after treatment, may include:
- A slight darkening of the skin
- Enlarged pores
- Skins feels more or less sensitive
- A thickening of tissue or skin
Other possible side effects of external beam radiation therapy are:
Tiredness. Your fatigue might not lift until a few weeks or months after you finish getting radiation therapy.
Lymphedema. If radiation therapy damages the lymph nodes around your prostate gland, the fluid can build up in your legs or genital area. That can bring on swelling and pain. Physical therapy can usually treat lymphedema, but it might not go away completely.
Urinary problems. Radiation can irritate your bladder, and that could lead to a condition called radiation cystitis. You might:
- Have to pee more often
- Feel like it burns when you pee
- Notice blood in your urine
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How To Alleviate Side Effects
Before RT begins, a doctor will describe the adverse effects that a person may experience during and after the treatment.
If any side effects arise during treatment, inform the doctor as soon as possible some effects indicate that the treatment program should be changed or that the person should be taking radioprotective drugs. Other side effects may improve with lifestyle changes and home care. Below, we look at ways of managing some side effects of RT.
Who Might Benefit From Radiation Therapy
Your doctor might recommend radiation therapy in several situations.
It can be the first treatment for cancer that hasnât spread outside your prostate gland and is âlow grade.â The grade is a number that tells you how abnormal your cancer cells look under a microscope. The lower the grade, the more normal-looking your cancer cells are â and, in general, the more likely your cancer is slow-growing.
Radiation, along with hormone therapy, might also be part of your first cancer treatment if the disease has spread beyond your prostate into nearby tissues.
If you get surgery for prostate cancer, your doctor might recommend you get radiation therapy afterward, too. It can be helpful if the surgeon couldnât remove all of the cancer or if the cancer comes back in the area of your prostate.
If you have advanced prostate cancer, radiation could help keep the disease under control for as long as possible. It can also help prevent or ease symptoms that the cancer might cause.
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Will Radiation Therapy Make Me Tired
Everyone has their own energy level, so radiation treatment will affect each person differently.
People often feel fatigue after several weeks of treatment. For most, this fatigue is mild. But some people lose a lot of energy and need to change their daily routine.
If your doctor thinks you should limit how active you are, theyâll discuss it with you.
To minimize fatigue while youâre receiving radiation treatment:
- Get enough rest.
- Pace yourself, and plan rest breaks throughout your day.
Staging Of Prostate Cancer
Doctors will use the results of your prostate examination, biopsy and scans to identify the stage of your prostate cancer .
The stage of the cancer will determine which types of treatments will be necessary.
If prostate cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the chances of survival are generally good.
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How Does The Team Confirm Delivery Of The Correct Dose
The UC Davis team performs thorough quality assurance for every single plan and every single patient before treatment. For patients receiving Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy , the team radiates a phantom with radiation detectors inside to confirm that the radiation dose delivered is correct. This procedure is done before the first treatment is delivered.
Who Will Administer My Radiation Treatments
A doctor who specializes in radiation therapy is called a radiation oncologist. The radiation oncologist will prescribe the type and amount of radiation treatment that is appropriate and work closely with a team of healthcare professionals in determining the best way to deliver that treatment. Those healthcare professionals may include the following:
- Radiation physicists are experts who make sure the machines are working properly and that they deliver accurate radiation doses. The physicist also works closely with the doctor in planning your treatment.
- Dosimetrists are specialists who work with the doctor and physicist to create the treatment plan and calculate the radiation dose delivered to the tumor and the surrounding normal tissues.
- Radiation therapists are professionals who position you and operate the machines to deliver the radiation treatment on the linear accelerator.
- Radiation oncology nurses are caregivers who will help coordinate your care, manage side effects, and help you and your family learn about your treatment.
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How Can I Manage Skin Problems
You may notice that your skin in the treatment area begins to look reddened, irritated, sunburned or tanned. After a few weeks your skin may become very dry. Ask your doctor or nurse for advice on relieving itching or discomfort.
With some kinds of radiation therapy, treated skin may develop a “moist reaction,” especially in areas where there are skin folds. When this happens, the skin is wet and it may become very sore. It’s important to notify your doctor or nurse if your skin develops a moist reaction. You might find it helpful to seek care from an onco-dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in caring for skin problems cancer patients encounter.
Be very gentle with the skin in the treatment area. Avoid irritating treated skin, which can compromise the stratum corneum . When you wash, use only lukewarm water and mild soap. Don’t wear tight clothing over the treatment area. It’s important not to rub, scrub or scratch any sensitive spots. Also avoid putting anything that is very hot or very coldsuch as heating pads or ice packson your treated skin. Don’t use any powders, creams, perfumes, deodorants, body oils, ointments, lotions, or home remedies in the treatment area while you’re being treated or for several weeks afterward . Thats because many skin products can leave a coating on the skin that can interfere with radiation therapy or healing.
What Side Effects Occur With Radiation Therapy To The Breast And Chest
Radiation treatment to the chest may cause several changes. You will notice some of these changes yourself, and your treatment team will keep an eye on these and others. For example, you may find swallowing to be difficult or painful. You may develop a cough. Or you may develop a fever, notice a change in the color or amount of mucus when you cough, or feel short of breath. It is important to let your treatment team know right away if you have any of these symptoms. Your doctor also may check your blood counts regularly, especially if the radiation treatment area on your body is large. Just keep in mind that your doctor and nurse will be alert for these changes and will help you deal with them.
Your radiation therapy plan may include implants of radioactive material a week or two after external treatment is completed. You may have some breast tenderness or a feeling of tightness while the implants are in your breast. After they are removed, you are likely to notice some of the same effects that occur with external treatment. If so, follow the advice given above and let your doctor know about any problems that persist.
After 10 to 12 months, no further changes are likely to be caused by the radiation therapy. If you see new changes in breast size, shape, appearance, or texture after this time, report them to your doctor at once.
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Are Side Effects The Same For Everyone
The side effects of radiation treatment vary from patient to patient. You may have no side effects or only a few mild ones through your course of treatment. Some people do experience serious side effects, however. The side effects that you are likely to have depend primarily on the radiation dose and the part of your body that is treated. Your general health also can affect how your body reacts to radiation therapy and whether you have side effects. Before beginning your treatment, your doctor and nurse will discuss the side effects you might experience, how long they might last, and how serious they might be.
How Do You Ensure That The Radiation Is Being Delivered To The Correct Area
The radiation oncology team performs daily image guidance for IMRT and other sophisticated treatments to confirm proper position before the patient receives his or her daily treatment. This is accomplished using multiple technologies such as kilovoltage cone beam CT, helical megavoltage CT, real-time tracking with implanted radiofrequency beacons, and optical tracking, depending upon the treatment site and treatment machine.
How Can I Manage Fatigue
Lots of things can cause fatigue, so theres no one treatment that can get rid of it completely. But there are lots of things you can do to improve or manage your fatigue. Read the information below to find out how small changes to your life can make a big difference.
Talk to your doctor or nurse
Its important to talk to your healthcare team if you think you have fatigue. They can help you understand what might be making your fatigue worse and help you find ways to manage your fatigue. They can also check for any other health problems that might be causing your fatigue or making it worse.
Physical activity can help to improve fatigue. Read more about physical activity to improve fatigue.
Plan ahead and take things slowly
You might not have enough energy to do everything you used to do. But if you plan ahead, you can try to do the things that are most important to you.
Keeping a diary can help you plan your activities. .
The five Ps
Some men find thinking about the five Ps helpful when planning their time.
Get help with emotional problems
Ask for help
It can be difficult to ask for help when youre used to being independent. But partners, family members and friends will usually want to help. Think about which activities you want to do for yourself, and which ones someone else could do for you.
Make time to relax
Eat and drink well
Improve your sleep
During the day
When To See Your Healthcare Provider
Many people underestimate fatigue and fail to discuss it with their practitioner. Severe fatigue that does not resolve with the tips above should be reported to your healthcare provider.
There can be underlying medical reasons for fatigue, such as anemia, that may need to be addressed. Your healthcare provider may be able to determine what is contributing to your fatigue and offer solutions.
- Memory problems, confusion, or brain fog
- Cant get out of bed
- Severe pain
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Things To Be Aware Of
RT involves exposure to radioactive materials. People who have undergone RT may need to take precautions to protect others from radiation exposure.
External beam RT involves a source of radiation outside of the body, which means that the person is not radioactive during or after the treatment.
However, if a person has received internal RT, radioactive particles can leave the body through sweat, blood, urine, semen, saliva, and other fluids.
People receiving internal RT as an oral capsule or injected liquid called systemic RT may need to stay in the hospital for afterward, until their body no longer gives off radiation.
Radioprotective Drugs For Reducing Side Effects
One way to reduce side effects is by using radioprotective drugs, but these are only used for certain types of radiation given to certain parts of the body. These drugs are given before radiation treatment to protect certain normal tissues in the treatment area. The one most commonly used today is amifostine. This drug may be used in people with head and neck cancer to reduce the mouth problems caused by radiation therapy.
Not all doctors agree on how these drugs should be used in radiation therapy. These drugs have their own side effects, too, so be sure you understand what to look for.
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How Does Brachytherapy Work
Brachytherapy involves implanting small, permanent radioactive seeds or temporary needles into the cancerous prostate.
After you are identified as a good candidate for brachytherapy, an ultrasound is used to guide the placement of needles into the prostate. Depending on whether you and your doctor have chosen permanent/low-dose brachytherapy or temporary/high-dose brachytherapy, these needles are then used to either put in permanent seeds or temporary radiation sources.
Placement of seeds is a minimally invasive procedure and does not require incisions. Men undergoing the procedure can return to full activity in less than a week. This is done as an outpatient procedure before you begin treatment.
Does Msk Offer Proton Therapy For Prostate Cancer
Some men with prostate cancer may choose to receive another form of external-beam radiation therapy called proton therapy. Proton therapy can deliver a high radiation dose to the prostate while lowering the radiation dose to normal surrounding tissue. It is unclear if there is any advantage to proton therapy compared with IMRT. We are now studying how these approaches compare in terms of side effects and outcomes at the New York Proton Center. These efforts are being led by radiation oncologist Daniel Gorovets.
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How Does Radiotherapy Work
Radiotherapy aims to destroy prostate cancer cells without causing too much damage to healthy cells. External beam radiotherapy is high-energy X-ray beams targeted at the prostate from outside the body. These X-ray beams damage the cancer cells and stop them from growing and spreading to other parts of the body . Radiotherapy permanently damages and kills the cancer cells, but healthy cells can repair themselves and recover more easily.
Radiotherapy treats the whole prostate. It aims to treat all the cancer cells, including any that have spread to the area just outside the prostate. The treatment itself is painless but it can cause side effects that may cause you problems.
You may have radiotherapy to a wider area, including the nearby lymph nodes, if there is a risk that the cancer has spread there. Lymph nodes are part of your immune system and are found throughout your body. The lymph nodes in your pelvic area are a common place for prostate cancer to spread to. If you do have radiotherapy to a wider area, you will be more likely to get side effects.
Why Does Radiation Therapy Cause Fatigue
Fatigue occurs during radiation therapy because the body is working hard to repair the damage caused to healthy cells during treatment. The degree of fatigue generally varies depending on the amount of tissue irradiated, as well as the location.
Radiation therapy may not be the sole culprit of fatigue. Fatigue also is a symptom of cancer itself and the mental stress associated with being a cancer patient. Certain medications, such as those to prevent and treat nausea, can also be responsible for fatigue. It’s not always possible to pinpoint the exact cause because there are many factors in cancer treatment.
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Further Treatments To Control The Cancer
Your first treatment may help keep your cancer under control. But over time, the cancer may change and start to grow again. If this happens you might be offered other treatments, including:
- more hormone therapy
- clinical trials
More hormone therapy
If youve had hormone therapy on its own as a first treatment, you might be offered a chemotherapy drug called docetaxel . This may help some men to live longer, and can help to improve and delay symptoms. If youve already had docetaxel, you might be offered more docetaxel or another chemotherapy drug called cabazitaxel .
This is a type of internal radiotherapy that may be an option if your cancer has spread to your bones and is causing pain. A radioactive liquid is injected into your arm and collects in bones that have been damaged by the cancer. It kills cancer cells in the bones and helps some men to live longer. It can also help to reduce bone pain and delay some symptoms, such as bone fractures. Read more about radiotherapy for advanced prostate cancer.