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How Long Does Radiation Last For Prostate Cancer

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Hormonal Therapy For Aggressive Prostate Cancer: How Long Is Enough

How Long Does Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer Take?
  • By Charlie Schmidt, Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Men weighing treatment options for intermediate- or high-risk cancer that is still localized to the prostate can face a tricky question. A standard approach in these cases is to give radiation to the prostate along with drugs that block testosterone, a hormone that makes the cancer cells grow faster. For how long should this hormone therapy last? Thats not entirely clear. The drugs have side effects, such as fatigue, impotence, and a loss of muscle mass. But radiation doesnt control prostate cancer effectively without them. Doctors therefore aim to give hormone therapy only for as long as it takes to help their patients, without causing any undue harm.

Now, newly published results from a phase 3 clinical trial are providing some needed guidance.

Possible Risks And Side Effects Of Brachytherapy

Radiation precautions: If you get permanent brachytherapy, the seeds will give off small amounts of radiation for several weeks or months. Even though the radiation doesnt travel far, your doctor may advise you to stay away from pregnant women and small children during this time. If you plan on traveling, you might want to get a doctors note regarding your treatment, as low levels of radiation can sometimes be picked up by detection systems at airports.

There’s also a small risk that some of the seeds might move . You may be asked to strain your urine for the first week or so to catch any seeds that might come out. You may be asked to take other precautions as well, such as wearing a condom during sex. Be sure to follow any instructions your doctor gives you. There have also been reports of the seeds moving through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, such as the lungs. As far as doctors can tell, this is uncommon and doesnt seem to cause any ill effects.

These precautions arent needed after HDR brachytherapy, because the radiation doesnt stay in the body after treatment.

Bowel problems: Brachytherapy can sometimes irritate the rectum and cause a condition called radiation proctitis. Bowel problems such as rectal pain, burning, and/or diarrhea can occur, but serious long-term problems are uncommon.

To learn more, see the Radiation Therapy section of our website.

Dry Orgasm And Infertility

Both the prostate and the glands responsible for semen production are removed during surgery, which is a common prostate cancer treatment. If you received this treatment, youd still be able to have an orgasm but youd no longer ejaculate.

This means that youll no longer be fertile. If you plan to have children in the future, you may consider banking your sperm before your surgery.

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  • 16 Contact A Kentucky Personal Injury Lawyer Today For Your Free Consultation
  • Frequent Or Loose Poo

    Long Term Side Effects Of Radiation For Prostate Cancer

    Your bowel movements might be looser or more frequent than before your treatment.

    You might need to take anti diarrhoea medicines, such as loperamide . Bulking agents, such as Fybogel might also help. Your doctor or nurse can prescribe these for you, talk to your doctor before taking these.

    You might find that you need to avoid high fibre foods. Although we normally think that a high fibre diet is the most healthy, it might make long term diarrhoea worse. Some people find it best to avoid high fibre vegetables, beans and pulses .

    Let your doctor know if you have ongoing problems with frequent bowel movements or bleeding. They can refer you to a specialist team. The team includes cancer doctors, digestive system specialists, bowel surgeons, dietitians and specialist nurses.

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    Can You File An Injury Lawsuit On Behalf Of Your Child

    The main aim of a personal injury lawsuit is to give victims the right to apply for compensation due to the careless or the negligence actions of others. For this reason, if your child is injured either at school or anywhere else due to another persons negligence, such as teachers or daycare, the family of the injured child can file for a claim. On the other hand, if, for example, a school does not provide sufficient safety measures, the school may face legal actions. Before taking any action, it is wise to seek legal representation.

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    If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Breast

    What to Expect after Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer

    If you have radiation to the breast, it can affect your heart or lungs as well causing other side effects.

    Short-term side effects

    Radiation to the breast can cause:

    • Skin irritation, dryness, and color changes
    • Breast soreness
    • Breast swelling from fluid build-up

    To avoid irritating the skin around the breast, women should try to go without wearing a bra whenever they can. If this isnt possible, wear a soft cotton bra without underwires.

    If your shoulders feel stiff, ask your cancer care team about exercises to keep your shoulder moving freely.

    Breast soreness, color changes, and fluid build-up will most likely go away a month or 2 after you finish radiation therapy. If fluid build-up continues to be a problem, ask your cancer care team what steps you can take. See Lymphedema for more information.

    Long-term changes to the breast

    Radiation therapy may cause long-term changes in the breast. Your skin may be slightly darker, and pores may be larger and more noticeable. The skin may be more or less sensitive and feel thicker and firmer than it was before treatment. Sometimes the size of your breast changes it may become larger because of fluid build-up or smaller because of scar tissue. These side effects may last long after treatment.

    After about a year, you shouldnt have any new changes. If you do see changes in breast size, shape, appearance, or texture after this time, tell your cancer care team about them right away.

    Less common side effects in nearby areas

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    External Beam Radiation Therapy

    In EBRT, beams of radiation are focused on the prostate gland from a machine outside the body. This type of radiation can be used to try to cure earlier stage cancers, or to help relieve symptoms such as bone pain if the cancer has spread to a specific area of bone.

    You will usually go for treatment 5 days a week in an outpatient center for at least several weeks, depending on why the radiation is being given. Each treatment is much like getting an x-ray. The radiation is stronger than that used for an x-ray, but the procedure typically is painless. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, although the setup time getting you into place for treatment takes longer.

    Newer EBRT techniques focus the radiation more precisely on the tumor. This lets doctors give higher doses of radiation to the tumor while reducing the radiation exposure to nearby healthy tissues.

    Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer

    Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to kill cancer cells. Depending on the stage of the prostate cancer and other factors, radiation therapy might be used:

    • As the first treatment for cancer that is still just in the prostate gland and is low grade. Cure rates for men with these types of cancers are about the same as those for men treated with radical prostatectomy.
    • As part of the first treatment for cancers that have grown outside the prostate gland and into nearby tissues.
    • If the cancer is not removed completely or comes back in the area of the prostate after surgery.
    • If the cancer is advanced, to help keep the cancer under control for as long as possible and to help prevent or relieve symptoms.

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    What Is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy And What Advantages Does It Offer

    Why Radiation Therapy Causes More Harm Than Good

    Traditionally, we deliver external beam radiation in 45 to 48 sessions over a span of ten weeks, using very sophisticated computer-based planning and enhanced imaging techniques and tumor tracking during the treatment. This is called image-guided IMRT and it is the current standard of care.

    But there is increasing interest in giving this radiation in shorter courses of treatment. Many of the people we care for have a type of radiation therapy called MSK PreciseTM. MSK Precise is a form of SBRT that can be given in five sessions instead of the usual 45 to 50. MSK has been doing this for the past nine years, and the results in the several hundred people whove been treated have been excellent so far. The treatment is very well tolerated, with outcomes that are at least equivalent to and possibly better than the standard ten weeks of treatment. Because of its superior precision, MSK Precise has less side effects than more conventional radiation techniques, with extremely low rates of incontinence and rectal problems. The sexual side effects are low and similar to what is experienced with conventional external radiation techniques. And of course, its much more convenient for patients.

    For patients with more-advanced tumors, we are completing a phase II trial in which were combining sophisticated brachytherapy approaches with MSK Precise. This kind of combination of dose-intense or escalated radiation may end up being a very effective regimen.

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    What If The Cancer Returns

    Twenty to 30 percent of men whove been treated for prostate cancer experience recurrence. In many cases, recurrent prostate cancer is found during follow-up visits. Men whove had prostate cancer may be more likely to develop other types of cancer.

    If your doctor finds that your cancer has returned, the two of you should address these questions:

    • Is a more advanced treatment option available this time?
    • Should you consider surgery?
    • How quickly is the cancer progressing?
    • If its progressing slowly and you arent experiencing symptoms, do you need treatment?

    Talk with your family. Getting support from your friends and family or a support group is important as you prepare to make choices about treatments again.

    Continue with making healthy lifestyle changes. Although it can be discouraging to receive a new diagnosis, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be an important aspect of your treatment.

    If your cancer is entering remission and youre seeking support from men who are in a similar situation, you have several great options:

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    What Happens After Treatment Finishes

    How Long Does Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer Take?

    After radiation therapy has finished, your treatment team will give you general information about your recovery. They will tell you how to look after the treatment area and recommend ways to manage side effects. They will also suggest who to call if you have any concerns.

    Life after cancer treatment can present its own challenges. You may have mixed feelings when treatment ends, and worry that every ache and pain means the cancer is coming back.

    Some people say that they feel pressure to return to normal life. It is important to allow yourself time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and establish a new daily routine at your own pace. Your family and friends may also need time to adjust.

    Cancer Council 13 11 20 can help you connect with other people who have had cancer, and provide you with information about the emotional and practical aspects of living well after cancer.

    For more on this, see Living well after cancer.

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    What Are The Different Types Of Radiation Treatments

    Radiation therapy uses concentrated doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and reduce the size of tumors. Depending on the type of cancer present in the body, one of two types of radiation therapy may be used.

    External beam radiation therapy uses a large machine to send radiation into the specific area containing cancer. The radiation machine never touches the body, but it does move around to deliver radiation into precise parts of the body. External beam radiation is the most common type of treatment for many cancers.

    Internal radiation therapy, on the other hand, uses a solid or liquid radiation source to physically deliver radiation inside the body. If a solid source of radiation is used, it only targets a specific part of the body for localized treatment, especially for cancers of the head, neck, breast, cervix, prostate, and eye. If a liquid source of radiation is used, its considered a systemic therapy that travels through the blood into tissues throughout the entire body.

    Radiation therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments or surgeries to target cancer in the most strategic way possible. Its often used to make surgery easier by shrinking the size of the tumor beforehand. Radiation therapy is even used during surgery to go straight into cancer cells without passing through the skin.

    When Is Radiation Therapy Used

    There are some instances where the practitioners opt for radiotherapy for prostate cancer as opposed to other forms of treatment. Here are some of the situations in which radiation therapy may be used:

    • As the first treatment of cancer, which is still confined to the prostate gland.
    • It is used along with hormone therapy during the first treatment for prostate cancer that has extended the nearby tissues.
    • After the reoccurrence of cancer in the area, it was before surgery.
    • To keep cancer under control and relieve you from the symptoms for as long as possible if the cancer is advanced.

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