Side Effects From Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer, known as androgen deprivation therapy , suppresses production of testosterone. ADT can cause several side effects. These include fatigue, hot flashes, decreased bone density, ED, depressed mood, decreased sex drive, weight gain, heart risks, breast growth and cognitive decline.
The severity and length of side effects depend on how long treatment lasts. âIf a man has only six months of treatment, their level of testosterone rises again, and theyâll go back to feeling like themselves,â Calvaresi said.
Often, mood changes in men on ADT are caused by other side effects such as weight gain and hot flashes. âIf we can manage those other side effects, then often that improves mood,â she said. Following a healthy diet and exercising regularly often helps to decrease fatigue, prevent weight gain and improve overall mood. Before beginning hormone therapy, you should discuss the effects of ADT with your doctor, and talk about how you can change your exercise and eating habits to help head off side effects before they occur.
Also Check: Prostate Cancer Center Of New Jersey
How To Decide Between Radiation And Surgery For Localized Prostate Cancer
If youre like most men whove been diagnosed with prostate cancer, youve been told you have early-stage, localized prostate cancer, meaning the disease hasnt spread beyond the prostate. You may have also been told that you have choices about what you want to do next.
Unless your cancer is aggressive, youve probably been presented with three treatment options: active surveillance, radiation therapy or surgery. If you arent comfortable with active surveillance, or if its not an advisable option for you, you may have to decide between radiation therapy and surgery to treat your cancer.
Many men want to know whats the best treatment for their localized prostate cancer. But its a misconception that you have only one better or safer choice. In most cases, either radiation therapy or surgery is an equally good choice when we look at long-term survival.
Weve heard of some physicians telling men of their prostate cancer diagnosis and asking them to make a treatment decision at the same appointment. But prostate cancer progresses slowly, so most men have time to think about their options and shouldnt feel pressured into making an immediate decision.
How you feel about the big three possible side effects of treatmenturinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction and bowel healthmay be the deciding factor for you.
To help you through the process of making this decision, this article covers:
How Well It Works
For men with localized prostate cancer, radiation works about as well as surgery to treat the cancer. With either treatment, the chance of the cancer spreading is low. One study looked at men who had localized prostate cancer and found that the risk of dying was very low . The study found that the risk of dying was about the same, no matter which treatment the men chose.footnote 1
For men with advanced prostate cancer that has grown beyond the prostate but not into lymph nodes or bones, external-beam radiation combined with hormone therapy can work better than surgery. This treatment will often control cancer growth and give men many disease-free years.footnote 2
Radiation therapy also works well to treat pain when prostate cancer has spread to the bone.footnote 3
Don’t Miss: Is Ejaculation Good For The Prostate Gland
What Are The Side Effects Of Brachytherapy
- Frequent urination or urinary retention or burning with urination
- Erectile dysfunction
- Urethral stricture or narrowing of the urethra
- Diarrhea or blood in the stool
- Secondary cancers
For the short time that the seeds are giving off larger amounts of radiation, you should avoid close proximity to children or pregnant women. Make sure to talk with your radiation oncologist or oncology nurse for instruction about radiation safety and exposure for family members or pets.
If you are traveling through an airport following brachytherapy treatment, there is a chance that radiation detectors will be set off. Talk to your radiation oncologist and ask for a note to indicate youve just had radiation treatment.
Side Effects Of Prostate Radiation
Side effects of prostate radiation is an important topic, which many doctors and their patients have to discuss before proceeding to the procedure further on. In most cases, radiation treatment for prostate cancer has the same side effects as brachytherapy . But its important to keep in mind that every person will have different side effects from the same procedure and health in general.
You May Like: How To Hit Your Prostate
The Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer
There are a few side effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, like diarrhea and passing urine regularly.
These side effects often occur after one or two weeks of starting RT. The symptoms can worsen during treatment and after the treatment ends. But you can feel relief after two weeks of treatment.
The side effects that occur in one person may not come in another person. They can vary from person to person. The possible side effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer are as follows:
Side Effects Of Ebrt For Prostate Cancer
Many of the possible side effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer involve the bladder and bowelthe prostate is very close to both. Although the goal is to target only the prostate with radiation, sometimes small amounts may cause problems to nearby areas of the body.
Some of the potential side effects from EBRT include:
- Bowel problems, including diarrhea, leakage or rectal bleeding
- Urinary symptoms, such as a need to urinate more frequently, incontinence or a burning sensation during urination
You May Like: How To Get Prostate Cancer
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.
If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Chest
Radiation treatment to the chest may cause side effects such as:
Radiation can also cause other problems in the heart or lungs.
Getting radiation to the middle portion of the chest can raise your risk of heart disease. This risk increases with higher radiation doses and larger treatment areas in this part of your body. Radiation can also cause hardening of the arteries , heart valve damage, or irregular heartbeats.
Radiation pneumonitis is inflammation of the lungs that can be caused by radiation treatment to the chest . It may occur about 3 to 6 months after getting radiation therapy. Its more likely if you have other lung diseases, like emphysema . Common symptoms of radiation pneumonitis include:
- Shortness of breath that usually gets worse with exercise
- Chest pain, which is often worse when taking in a deep breath
Sometimes there are no symptoms, and radiation pneumonitis is found on a chest x-ray.
Symptoms often go away on their own, but if treatment is needed, it is based on trying to decrease the inflammation. Steroids, like prednisone, are usually used. With treatment, most people recover without any lasting effects. But if it persists, it can lead to pulmonary fibrosis . When this happens, the lungs can no longer fully inflate and take in air.
Be sure you understand what to look for, and tell your cancer care team if you notice any of these side effects.
Recommended Reading: What Does Stage 7 Prostate Cancer Mean
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.
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 your chances of getting each side effect.
Ideas For Future Studies Of Proton Therapy
Despite the studys limitations, these intriguing findings raise questions that should inform future prospective phase 3 trials, Dr. Buchsbaum said, although there are barriers to large studies of proton therapy.
For instance, it is particularly encouraging that proton therapy appeared to be safer in a group of older and sicker patients who typically experience more side effects, Dr. Baumann noted.
Dr. Buchsbaum agreed that proton therapy may be especially helpful for older and sicker patients, but he noted that ongoing phase 3 trials were not designed to analyze this group of patients.
And because proton therapy may cause fewer side effects, future trials could also explore whether combining proton therapy with chemotherapy might be more tolerable for patients, the authors wrote.
For example, both chemotherapy and traditional radiation for lung cancer can irritate the esophagus, making it painful and difficult for patients to eat. But proton therapy might limit damage to the esophagus, making it easier for a patient to tolerate the combination, Dr. Baumann explained.
Future studies could also explore whether combining proton therapy with higher doses of chemotherapy might increase cures without causing more side effects, he added.
Dr. Buchsbaum agreed, saying that it would be worthwhile to explore this possibility. Just asking the question: Is more effective? might not be giving it a fair opportunity to demonstrate its benefit to society, he said.
How Long Does External Radiation Treatment Take
In most cases the total dose of radiation needed to kill a tumor cant be given all at once. This is because a large dose given one time can cause more damage to nearby normal tissues. This can cause more side effects than giving the same dose over spread out over days or weeks into many treatments.
The total dose of external radiation therapy is usually divided into smaller doses called fractions. Most patients get radiation treatments daily, 5 days a week for 5 to 8 weeks. Weekend rest breaks allow time for normal cells to recover. The total dose of radiation and the number of treatments is based on:
- The size and location of the cancer
- The type of cancer
- The reason for the treatment
- Your general health
- Any other treatments youre getting
Other radiation schedules might be used in certain cases. For instance, radiation therapy might last only a few weeks when its used to relieve symptoms, because the overall dose of radiation needed is lower. In some cases, radiation might be given as 2 or more treatments each day. Or you might have several weeks off in the middle of treatments so your body can recover while the cancer shrinks. Your doctor will talk to you about the best plan in your case.
What Are The Different Types Of External Beam Radiation Therapy
Many of the techniques noted below use technology to direct the treatment to target the cancer. Each type of external beam radiation starts with a CT scan to map your body and custom tailor the radiation to your specific anatomy. Special computers are then used to plan radiation treatment to deliver an adequate dose to the prostate while sparing nearby organs, such as the rectum and bladder, as much as possible.
You May Like: What Is Prostate Removal Called
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.
Swollen Legs Or Scrotum
You might get swelling in the legs or the sack of skin around the testicles . The swelling is called lymphoedema . It happens when the lymph channels that drain fluid from the legs are damaged by the radiotherapy. The swelling can be uncomfortable.
You can do various things to lower your risk of getting lymphoedema. Early treatment for lymphoedema can reduce the swelling and stop it getting worse.
Don’t Miss: Can Over Ejaculation Cause Prostate Problems
Negative Effects On Sex Life
All active treatments considerably affected patients sex lives specifically, 8193% of respondents reported an effect . Prostatectomy was reported as having a stronger effect on patients sex lives than the other treatments, even after adjusting for age and the Gleason score . External beam radiotherapy and hormonal therapy had weaker effects. Of the patients who reported a permanent effect at five years, 67% indicated sexual difficulties after prostatectomy, and almost the same proportion after brachytherapy . Permanent sexual difficulties were reported more often after prostatectomy than after external radiation and brachytherapy .
Between 70 and 92% of the patients reported sexual dysfunction depending on the treatment received . More dysfunction was reported after prostatectomy , hormonal therapy , and external radiotherapy than after the other treatments. Between 22 and 57% of the respondents reported impotence, most often after prostatectomy, whereas loss of sexual desire alone was rare . 1825% reported the loss of both desire and potency after prostatectomy or radiotherapy, whereas 45% reported the loss of both after hormonal therapy.
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.
Also Check: Do Women Need Prostate Exams
How To Manage Urinary And Bowel Dysfunction
Its common to experience urinary dysfunction, bowel dysfunction or both after receiving radiation therapy to the prostate gland. Medication is usually the first treatment recommended for these issues, although there are also injections and surgical procedures that can be used to address these side effects should they persist.
Bowel And Bladder Problems
You may have bowel or bladder changes because of radiotherapy. For example, blood vessels in your bowel and bladder can become more fragile. This may cause blood in your urine or from the back passage . If you notice any bleeding, always tell your doctor so they can check it out.
Let them know about any bowel or bladder symptoms you have. They can give you advice and may do some tests. You may also find it helpful to contact the Bladder and Bowel Community for support.
Also Check: How To Reduce An Enlarged Prostate Naturally
Questions To Ask Your Doctor Radiographer Or Nurse
- Will I have a planning session at a different time to the treatment, or immediately before?
- Will I have external beam radiotherapy or hormone therapy as well?
- What side effects might I get?
- How will we know if the treatment has worked?
- What should my PSA level be after treatment and how often will you test it?
- If my PSA continues to rise, what other treatments are available?
What Is Radiation Recall
Radiation recall is a rash that looks like a severe sunburn. It is rare and happens when certain types of chemotherapy are given during or soon after external-beam radiation therapy.
The rash appears on the part of the body that received radiation. Symptoms may include redness, tenderness, swelling, wet sores, and peeling skin.
Typically, these side effects start within days or weeks of radiation therapy. But they can also appear months or years later. Doctors treat radiation recall with medications called corticosteroids. Rarely, it may be necessary to wait until the skin heals before continuing chemotherapy.
Dont Miss: Is Cranberry Juice Good For The Prostate
Don’t Miss: How To Reduce Prostate Inflamation
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
Vitamins And Dietary Supplements
Its OK to take a multivitamin during your radiation therapy, but dont 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 radiation therapy team. This includes vitamins, minerals, and herbal or botanical remedies.
You May Like: Likelihood Of Surviving Prostate Cancer
Recommended Reading: Can Prostate Cancer Patient Eat Eggs
If Treatment Does Not Work
Recovery from cancer is not always possible. If the cancer cannot be cured or controlled, the disease may be called advanced or terminal.
This diagnosis is stressful, and for some people, advanced cancer may be difficult to discuss. However, it is important to have open and honest conversations with your health care team to express your feelings, preferences, and concerns. The health care team has special skills, experience, and knowledge to support patients and their families and is there to help. Making sure a person is physically comfortable, free from pain, and emotionally supported is extremely important.
People who have advanced cancer and who are expected to live less than 6 months may want to consider hospice care. Hospice care is designed to provide the best possible quality of life for people who are near the end of life. You and your family are encouraged to talk with the health care team about hospice care options, which include hospice care at home, a special hospice center, or other health care locations. Nursing care and special equipment, including a hospital bed, can make staying at home a workable option for many families. Learn more about advanced cancer care planning.
After the death of a loved one, many people need support to help them cope with the loss. Learn more about grief and loss.