Faq: Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer
Why would I choose radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy, including external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy, is an alternative form of treatment for prostate cancer. EBRT may be used after other treatments, such as surgery, to manage cancer that has recurred or is at high risk of recurrence. Radiation therapy has an excellent record of success, providing long-term disease control and survival rates equivalent to other treatments, including surgery.
How should I expect to feel during radiation therapy?
Undergoing external beam radiation therapy is similar to having a routine X-ray. Radiation cannot be seen, smelled or felt. Generally, side effects don’t appear until the second or third week of treatment. Because radiation therapy is a local treatment, only the areas of the body where it is directed will experience side effects. Most patients will experience some or all of the following:
- Increase in the frequency of urination
- Urinary urgency
- Softer and smaller volume bowel movements
- Increased frequency of bowel movements
- Worsening of hemorrhoids or rectal irritation with occasional scant blood and fatigue
Many questions may arise during radiation therapy treatment. Your doctors will be available to answer questions throughout your treatment.
How should I expect to feel after radiation therapy?
Treatment Areas And Possible Side Effects
|Part of the Body Being Treated||Possible Side Effects|
Healthy cells that are damaged during radiation treatment usually recover within a few months after treatment is over. But sometimes people may have side effects that do not improve. Other side effects may show up months or years after radiation therapy is over. These are called late effects. Whether you might have late effects, and what they might be, depends on the part of your body that was treated, other cancer treatments youve had, genetics, and other factors, such as smoking.Ask your doctor or nurse which late effects you should watch for. See the section on Late Effects to learn more.
- Posted:May 1, 2018
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A Large Role For Radiation Therapy
People diagnosed with localized prostate cancerthat is, disease that hasnt spread outside the prostate regionhave many potential treatment options, depending on the stage and grade . Some may have surgery alone. Others may only have radiation therapy.
And some may have a combination of the two. This often happens when theres concern that surgery hadnt removed all the tumor tissue. Or, if someones prostate-specific antigen levels start to rise months or years after surgery, radiation therapy may be recommended even if imaging hasnt been able to identify tumor growth.
Hypofractionated radiation therapy is already an accepted treatment option for some people undergoing radiation therapy alone to treat prostate cancer. But whether this type of radiation therapy is appropriate for use after surgery has been unclear.
When radiation is used after surgery, it’s delivered to a larger area of the body, including sensitive areas in the bladder and rectum, Dr. Buyyounouski explained. This raises the possibility that the higher doses used in hypofractionation may cause long-term side effects that could outweigh the benefit of two fewer weeks of treatment for these patients.
And a lot of people do have some urinary complications after surgery, said Dr. Citrin. So even a small increase in urinary or bowel symptoms that persist after treatment with one regimen versus the other could be quite impactful in terms of quality of life.
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How Can I Reduce Skin Reactions
- Gently cleanse the treated area using lukewarm water and a mild soap such as Ivory, Dove, Neutrogena, Basis, Castile, or Aveeno Oatmeal Soap. Donât rub. Pat your skin dry with a soft towel or use a hair dryer on a cool setting.
- Try not to scratch or rub the treated area.
- Donât put any ointment, cream, lotion, or powder on the treated area unless your radiation oncologist or nurse has prescribed it.
- Donât wear tight-fitting clothing or clothes made from harsh fabrics like wool or corduroy. These fabrics can irritate the skin. Instead, choose clothes made from natural fibers like cotton.
- Donât apply medical tape or bandages to the treated area.
- Donât expose the treated area to extreme heat or cold. Avoid using an electric heating pad, hot water bottle, or ice pack.
- Donât expose the treated area to direct sunlight. That could intensify your skin reaction and lead to a severe sunburn. Choose a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Protect the treated area from direct sunlight even after your course of treatment is over.
Why Are There Marks On My Skin
Your radiation therapist will make small marks resembling freckles on your skin along the treatment area. These marks provide targets for the treatment and are a semi-permanent outline of your treatment area.
Donât try to wash these marks off or retouch them if they fade. The therapist will re-mark the treatment area when necessary.
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What To Expect After Radiation Treatment For Prostate Cancer
What to Expect After Radiation Treatment for Prostate Cancer? Many patients wonder what to expect after receiving radiation treatment for prostate cancer. It is the most widely used method of treatment regardless of the cancers stage. Radiation therapy can be followed by a radical prostatectomy, which removes the prostate gland and nearby lymph nodes.
Prostatecancer is the most diagnosed solid tumor type among men. In the early stages ofprostate cancer, indolent cases without major symptoms will receive activesurveillance and watchful waiting to observe how the disease progresses. If thecancer spreads outside of the prostate gland, other treatment options areconsidered, the first of which being radiation.
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Vitamins And Dietary Supplements
Its OK to take a multivitamin during your radiation therapy. Do not take more than the recommended daily allowance of any vitamin or mineral.
Dont take any other dietary supplements without talking with a member of your care team. Vitamins, minerals, and herbal or botanical supplements are examples of dietary supplements.
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Short Term Side Effects
Patients who receive any type of radiation therapy to treat their prostate cancer can have side effects. Short term side effects are ones that start during or shortly after your radiation treatment. Below is a list of possible short term side effects. Treatments can affect each patient differently, and you may not have these particular side effects. Talk with your care team about what you can expect from your treatment
Common Urinary Problems After Imrt Cyberknife Proton Beam And Brachytherapy For Prostate Cancer
It is not uncommon for men to experience urinary problems during or after radiotherapy for prostate cancer. In most men, urinary symptoms improve spontaneously after the completion of radiation. In some men, the symptoms persist or become worse. For these men, treatment options are available to help them with urinary symptoms after radiation therapy for prostate cancer.
Most commonly urinary symptoms during radiotherapy for prostate cancer include the following:
- Frequent urination
- urinary retention
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Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy
This technique uses advanced image guided techniques to deliver large doses of radiation to a precise area, such as the prostate. Because there are large doses of radiation in each dose, the entire course of treatment is given over just a few days.
SBRT is often known by the names of the machines that deliver the radiation, such as Gamma KnifeÂ®, X-KnifeÂ®, CyberKnifeÂ®, and ClinacÂ®.
The main advantage of SBRT over IMRT is that the treatment takes less time . The side effects, though, are not better. In fact, some research has shown that some side effects might actually be worse with SBRT than with IMRT.
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.
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Talk With Your Doctor About Side Effects And What To Expect
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.
Read Real Stories Of Men Who Underwent Treatment Of Enlarged Prostate At New York Urology Specialists
We offer treatment for prostate problems, including slow urine stream, frequent urination at night, difficulty emptying the bladder, and other problems to patients within driving distance to our offices as well as from other states and countries. Our patients come from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and over 70 countries worldwide.
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Common Thoughts And Feelings
You may feel all sorts of things after you finish treatment. Some men are relieved and feel ready to put the cancer behind them and get back to normal life. But others find it difficult to move on. Adjusting to life after cancer can take time.
For some men, the emotional impact of what they have been through only hits them after they have finished treatment. You might feel angry for example, angry at what you have been through, or about the side effects of treatment. Or you might feel sad or worried about the future.
Follow-up appointments can also cause different emotions. You might find it reassuring to see the doctor or nurse, or you may find it stressful, particularly in the few days before your appointments.
Worries about your cancer coming back
You may worry about your cancer coming back. This is natural, and will often improve with time. There are things you can do to help manage your concerns, such as finding ways to reduce stress. Breathing exercises and listening to music can help you relax and manage stress. Some people find that it helps to share what theyre thinking with somebody else, like a friend. If you are still struggling, you can get help for stress or anxiety on the NHS you can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service or ask your GP.
If youre worried about your PSA level or have any new symptoms, speak to your doctor or nurse. If your cancer does come back, you’ll be offered further treatment.
Causes And Frequency Of Pain After Radiation Therapy
Frequently prescribed to treat cancer, radiation therapy can cause adhesions to form in the body. These adhesions can cause moderate to severe pain or dysfunction. Radiation therapy adhesions act like a very strong glue, adhering the irradiated tissues to nearby organs, muscles, bones and connective tissues.
Where adhesions occur, organs and muscles can become bound together, losing their ability to function normally. Pain or other symptoms are frequent results. Symptoms may appear far from the site of the original trauma as adhesions spread to neighboring organs.
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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.
What Is A Radiation Oncologist
If a patient is undergoing radiation, the cancer treatment plan may be managed by a radiation oncologist who carefully monitors the persons overall health and well-being through the process.
With advanced cancer, a patient may also be referred to a medical oncologist. This specialized doctor uses medicines such as chemotherapy and hormone therapy to treat cancers. Its common for several medical specialists to work together on a treatment plantheyre known as a cancer care team.
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What To Expect After Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer
Patients who receive radiation therapy for prostate cancer may experience a wide range of short-term and long-term side effects. And side effects may vary widely from patient to patient depending on a variety of factors, including the extent of the disease and the patients overall health. For instance, some patients may need a urinary catheter to help empty the bladder. Other patients may experience sexual side effects.
At CTCA, our trained supportive care providers work closely with you and your doctors to determine how best to address radiation therapy side effects. Services may include:
- Pelvic floor therapy
Proton Beam Radiation Therapy
Proton beam therapy focuses beams of protons instead of x-rays on the cancer. Unlike x-rays, which release energy both before and after they hit their target, protons cause little damage to tissues they pass through and release their energy only after traveling a certain distance. This means that proton beam radiation can, in theory, deliver more radiation to the prostate while doing less damage to nearby normal tissues. Proton beam radiation can be aimed with techniques similar to 3D-CRT and IMRT.
Although in theory proton beam therapy might be more effective than using x-rays, so far studies have not shown if this is true. Right now, proton beam therapy is not widely available. The machines needed to make protons are very expensive, and they arent available in many centers in the United States. Proton beam radiation might not be covered by all insurance companies at this time.
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Scheduling Appointments For Enlarged Prostate Treatment At New York Urology Specialists
We offer affordable appointment prices with or without insurance. We offer weekday, weekend, and evening office hours.
Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger is a board-certified urologist and specialist in the treatment of urinary problems in men. He is one of the few urologists who offers a full range of treatment options for BPH . He specializes in all aspects of care for men with an enlarged prostate and urinary problems, including frequent urination at night, difficulty emptying the bladder, urinary urgency, and incontinence. He has successfully treated thousands of men with urinary problems, including urinary retention, painful urination, and frequent urination.
Tips To Get The Most From Your Follow
Write down any questions or concerns beforehand
It’s easy to forget what you want to say once youre at your appointment.
Bring someone with you
It can be hard to take everything in at your appointments. Some people find it helpful to take someone with them, to listen and discuss things with later. If your appointment is on the phone, you could ask a friend or family member to listen with you.
It can help to write things down during or after your appointment. Theres space for this in the appointment diary in our booklet, Follow-up after prostate cancer treatment: What happens next?
Ask to record your appointment
You could do this using your phone or another recording device. You have the right to record your appointment if you want to because its your personal data. But let your doctor or nurse know if you are recording them.
Ask for help
If there is anything bothering you, let your doctor or nurse know.
Ask for copies of any letters
If your appointment is at the hospital, ask for a copy of the letter that is sent to your GP. This will happen automatically at some hospitals. It will help to remind you of what was said at your appointment. If you don’t understand the letter, call your main contact at the hospital or contact our Specialist Nurses.
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