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How Long Do Side Effects Of Prostate Radiation Last

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Will Radiation Therapy Cause My Hair To Fall Out

How Radiation Affects The Prostate | Mark Scholz, MD

Only people who get radiation to the scalp or the brain may have hair loss. Others wont. If it does happen, itâs usually sudden and comes out in clumps. In most cases, your hair will grow back after therapy stops, but it may be thinner or have a different texture.

Some people choose to cut their hair short before treatment begins to make less weight on the hair shaft. If you lose hair on top of your head, be sure to wear a hat or a scarf to protect your scalp from the sun when you go outside. If you decide to buy a wig, ask the doctor to write a prescription for one and check to see if its covered by your insurance or is a tax-deductible expense.

Are There Side Effects Of The Combination Approach

There is a slightly higher chance that patients who receive the combined therapy will have rectal irritation or urinary side effects, both of which are common with any radiation treatment given to the prostate. But at MSK, we routinely use sophisticated planning techniques that help us reduce the dose given to normal tissues such as the rectum, bladder, and urethra, lessening the chances of side effects and complications.

In addition, at MSK, we routinely use a rectal spacer gel, which we inject between the prostate and the rectum while the patient is under mild anesthesia, to create a buffer between these two tissues. By creating this space, we can further reduce the dose of radiation that the rectum is exposed to. This leads to fewer side effects for the patient. The rectal spacer gel is biodegradable and after a few months dissolves on its own within the body, causing no harm or long-term effects.

What Is Intermittent Adt

Researchers have investigated whether a technique called intermittent androgen deprivation can delay the development of hormone resistance. With intermittent androgen deprivation, hormone therapy is given in cycles with breaks between drug administrations, rather than continuously. An additional potential benefit of this approach is that the temporary break from the side effects of hormone therapy may improve a mans quality of life.

Randomized clinical trials have shown similar overall survival with continuous ADT or intermittent ADT among men with metastatic or recurrent prostate cancer, with a reduction in some side effects for intermittent ADT .

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Who Can I Contact If I Have Personal Concerns About My Treatment

Many hospitals and clinics have a staff social worker who can help you during your treatment. Check with your doctor to see if this is available to you.

The social worker can discuss any emotional issues or other concerns about your treatment or your personal situation and provide information about resources. The social worker can also discuss housing or transportation needs if necessary.

People dealing with certain medical issues find it helpful to share experiences with others in the same situation. Your doctor can provide a list of support groups if you are interested. Your social worker can provide additional information, and you can look online for support group resources.

Low Levels Of Vitamin B12

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You might have low vitamin B12 after radiotherapy to the pelvis . This is called a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Radiotherapy can stop your digestive system from taking in vitamin B12 from the food you eat. This is called malabsorption. This means you can have a B12 deficiency even if you eat a balanced diet.

A B12 deficiency can be a cause of anaemia. This can lead to weakness, diarrhoea, numbness and tingling.

Its important that you go to your doctor if youre experiencing these symptoms so that they can help you.

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Urinary Dysfunction After Prostate Cancer Treatment

The term urinary dysfunction includes:

  • Urinary incontinence, which can range from some leaking to complete loss of bladder control

  • Irritative voiding symptoms or urinary bother, including increased urinary frequency, urgency, and pain upon urination

Bladder obstruction caused by an enlarged prostate is the typical reason for these symptoms initially. However, after therapy, they are typically caused by damage to the nerves and muscles used in urinary control.

Inflammation Of The Back Passage

Inflammation of the back passage is a long term side effect. Proctitis can cause a feeling of wanting to strain whether or not you actually need to pass a bowel movement. You might also have bleeding from your back passage or a slimy mucous discharge.

Bleeding is usually slight but can be more severe for some people. Talk to your radiographer or nurse if you have proctitis. They might suggest you use treatments such as steroid suppositories for a short time. This might reduce the inflammation.

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Side Effects From Radiation

Urinary symptoms from radiation treatment for prostate cancer are different from those caused by prostate surgery. “It’s more like a urinary tract infection-increased urgency and frequency, and men may some have bleeding or pain when they urinate,” Calvaresi said. These problems often go away once treatment is complete.

Radiation also may cause bowel changes, such as constipation, loose stools or both. These can be managed by over-the-counter medication. Men may also see some blood in their stool during treatment-if so, let your health care provider know about this.

Men undergoing radiation are likely to have ED, but not immediately. “It slowly sets in after radiation treatment,” Calvaresi said. Treatments for radiation-related ED are the same as ED caused by prostate cancer surgery.

What You Need To Know About The Prostate How Long Do Side Effects Of Prostate Radiation Last

Radiation Treatment: Managing Your Side Effects

A enlarged prostate can also cause blockages in the urethra. A blocked urethra can also damage the kidneys. A patient suffering from an enlargement of the prostate may have pain in his lower abdomen and genitals. If pain is present, a digital rectal examination will reveal hard areas. A doctor may prescribe surgery or perform an endoscopic procedure. If the enlarged prostate is not completely removed, it will shrink.

While the size of an enlarged prostate will influence the extent of urinary symptoms, men may experience a range of urinary symptoms. Some men have minimal or no symptoms at all. Some men will have a very enlarged prostate, whereas others will have a mild enlargement. Generally, the symptoms can stabilize over time. Some men may have an enlarged prostate but not notice it. If they have an enlarged colon, their physician can perform a TURP procedure.

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How Long Do Side Effects Last

Remember that the type of radiation side effects you might have depends on the prescribed dose and schedule. Most side effects go away within a few months of ending treatment. Some side effects may continue after treatment ends because it takes time for the healthy cells to recover from radiation.

Side effects might limit your ability to do some things. What you can do will depend on how you feel. Some patients are able to go to work or enjoy leisure activities while they get radiation therapy. Others find they need more rest than usual and cant do as much. If you have side effects that are bothersome and affecting your daily activities or health, the doctor may stop your treatments for a while, change the schedule, or change the type of treatment youre getting. Tell your cancer care team about any side affects you notice so they can help you with them.

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Symptomatic treatment of an enlarged prostate usually involves a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may be the best option if you suffer from chronic urination. It will help the body adjust to the increased size of the prostate. Also, taking regular urination intervals will help retrain the bladder to function properly. Inactivity also contributes to urine retention, and cold temperatures can increase the urge to urinate.

Invasive treatment of enlarged prostate includes medication that relieves the pressure on the urethra and bladder. However, if the condition is severe, it may require surgical intervention. If treatment is not successful, the enlarged prostate can become a potentially life-threatening disease. As the hormone levels in the body change, the enlarged prostate can lead to various complications, including urinary retention and even cancer. This is why it is critical to see a doctor for further evaluation.

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Radiation Therapy Side Effects

Radiation not only kills or slows the growth of cancer cells, it can also affect nearby healthy cells. Damage to healthy cells can cause side effects.

Many people who get radiation therapy have fatigue. Fatigue is feeling exhausted and worn out. It can happen all at once or come on slowly. People feel fatigue in different ways and you may feel more or less fatigue than someone else who is getting the same amount of radiation therapy to the same part of the body. See Fatigue and Cancer Treatment to learn more.

Other radiation therapy side effects you may have depend on the part of the body that is treated. To see which side effects you might expect, find the part of your body being treated in the following chart. Many of the side effects in the list link to more information in the Side Effects section. Discuss this chart with your doctor or nurse. Ask them about the side effects that you might expect.

Coping And Support For You And Your Family

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Coping with the side effects of prostate cancer radiotherapy can be difficult. There are things you can do, and people who can help you and your family to cope.

  • Prostate cancer: diagnosis and managementNational Institute for Health and Care Excellence , 2019. Last updated December 2021

  • Long-term urinary adverse effects of pelvic radiotherapy.P Elliott, B Malaeb.World Journal of Urology, 2011. Volume 29, Pages 35-41

  • Secondary malignancies following radiotherapy for prostate cancerPetros and others

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Cancer That Clearly Has Spread

If the cancer has spread outside the prostate, it will most likely go to nearby lymph nodes first, and then to bones. Much less often the cancer will spread to the liver or other organs.

When prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body , hormone therapy is probably the most effective treatment. But it isnt likely to cure the cancer, and at some point it might stop working. Usually the first treatment is a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonist, LHRH antagonist, or orchiectomy, sometimes along with an anti-androgen drug or abiraterone. Another option might be to get chemotherapy along with the hormone therapy. Other treatments aimed at bone metastases might be used as well.

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What Are The Different Types Of Internal Radiation Therapy

Brachytherapy and radiopharmaceuticals are both considered internal radiation therapies because they both work after being inserted inside the body, rather than being directed from outside. However, the similarities mostly end there. Brachytherapy works by implanting radioactive material into the prostate and is used for localized prostate cancer. Radiopharmaceuticals are injected into the bloodstream and are used for advanced, metastatic prostate cancer. Read on to find the details of each.

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What Should Patients Know About Msks Approach To Treating Prostate Cancer

At MSK, we manage prostate cancer in a very comprehensive way, tailored to each patients disease. There is no one specific therapy that is best for everyone.

Our initial assessment includes a carefully evaluated biopsy and a very detailed MRI to show the location of the disease, the integrity or soundness of the capsule surrounding the prostate, and the amount of disease. We will often obtain next-generation imaging and do genomic testing. Then, based on that information and with input from the urologist, the radiation oncologist, and the medical oncologist we can provide a comprehensive recommendation.

The radiotherapy we do here at MSK is state-of-the-art and unparalleled. We are one of the few centers in the world to do MRI-based treatment planning and one of the few centers in the US to offer MRI-guided treatment. When we give brachytherapy, we use computer software that provides us with real-time information about the quality and accuracy of the seed implant during the procedure. It requires a great deal of collaboration with our medical physics team to try to get the most accurate positioning of the prostate during the actual three or four minutes of the treatment.

We make adjustments while the patient is still under anesthesia, so that when the procedure is completed, we have been able to achieve ideal placement of the radiation seeds. This translates into improved outcomes.

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How Long Will My Follow

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer | Prostate Cancer Staging Guide

You will have follow-up appointments for some time after your treatment. Exactly how long will depend on your cancer, any side effects of treatment and the services in your area. You will usually have appointments for several years.

After your follow-up appointments finish, you may continue to have PSA tests. Speak to your GP if you have any problems or concerns they can refer you back to the hospital. Make sure you remind them about your prostate cancer, especially if its been a while since you had treatment or a PSA test.

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Who Should Consider Taking Radiopharmaceuticals

Radiopharmaceuticals are given through a vein to men with metastatic prostate cancer that has spread widely to the bone. Strontium89 and Samarium-153 are radiopharmaceuticals given to reduce the pain caused by the bone cancer. Radium-223, or Xofigo®, is a radiopharmaceutical given to prolong life.

The side effects associated with radiopharmaceuticals are mainly the suppression, or lowering, of white blood cell and platelet levels in the blood. Your doctor will be able to assess whether your body can handle this side effect before you are given the treatment and will monitor your levels after you receive it. Your doctor, specialist nurse, or nuclear medicine practitioner will be able to give you more information about the treatment and possible side effects.

If your doctor has told you that your bone metastases have spread, you may be a candidate for a radiopharmaceutical. Speak with your oncology team to see if one of these treatments may be right for you.

Questions To Ask The Health Care Team

Consider asking the health care team these questions if radiation therapy is a part of your recommended treatment plan:

  • What physical side effects are likely based on my specific radiation therapy treatment plan? When will they likely begin?

  • How can these side effects be prevented or managed?

  • How can I take care of the affected skin during my treatment period?

  • Who should I tell when a side effect appears or gets worse?

  • Are there specific side effects I should tell the doctor about right away?

  • Who can I talk with if I’m feeling anxious or upset about having this treatment?

  • If I’m having side effects that affect my nutrition, can you recommend an oncology dietitian?

  • What are other ways I can take care of myself during the treatment period?

  • Are there any restrictions on exercising or other physical activity during this treatment?

  • Could this treatment affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long?

  • Could this treatment affect my ability to become pregnant or have a child? If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?

  • What are the potential long-term effects of this type of radiation therapy?

  • If I’m worried about managing the financial costs of cancer care, who can help me?

  • Will special precautions be needed to protect my family and others from radiation exposure during my treatment period?

  • After radiation therapy is completed, what will my follow-up care plan be?

  • Why is follow-up care important for managing side effects of treatment?

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What Is Proton Beam Radiation Therapy

This type of therapy treats tumors with protons instead of X-ray radiation. It may be able to deliver more radiation specifically to a prostate cancer tumor with less damage to normal tissue.

Proton beam therapy might be a safe treatment option when a doctor decides that using X-rays could be risky for a patient. But so far, research hasnât shown that it works better than traditional radiation therapy against solid cancers in adults.

The side effects of proton beam therapy are similar to the ones that other types of radiation treatment bring on. But since proton therapy may be less damaging to normal tissue, the side effects might be milder.

After treatment, you may gradually have ones like:

  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Sore, reddened skin around the area where you got treated
  • Hair loss around the treatment spot

One of the disadvantages of proton therapy is that it might not be covered by all insurance companies. Youâd need to check with your health plan to find out.

Proton therapy also isnât widely available. You can get it only at certain centers in the U.S.

Talk With Your Doctor About Side Effects And What To Expect

Radiation Treatment Planning

Your doctor can help you determine whether radiation therapy is right for you.

In addition, an oncologist a doctor specializing in cancer treatment can help you learn how to minimize your chance of developing side effects.

They can also refer you to local support groups where you can get in touch with other people who have undergone or are undergoing the same treatment.

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Protecting Healthy Tissue Protecting Quality Of Life

Despite the higher dose rate associated with SBRT, multiple studies have validated that there are no worse side effects with CyberKnife SBRT than with traditional radiation.1 Unlike any other radiation treatment, the CyberKnife System continually tracks the target and automatically adapts the radiation beam for movement of the prostate in real-time throughout the entire treatment session. With this automatic motion tracking and synchronization, the CyberKnife System enhances your treatment teams ability to maximize the radiation dose delivered to the target, while minimizing dose to surrounding healthy tissues to reduce negative side-effects on urinary, bowel, and sexual function that can impact a patients quality of life. The majority of patients can continue normal activity during and immediately after treatment.

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