Difficulty Getting An Erection
Radiotherapy can damage the nerves that control getting an erection.
Whether you have problems getting and keeping an erection depends on:
- whether you have other health conditions
- whether you had erection problems before the treatment
- if you have hormone therapy before or after the radiotherapy
- whether you have internal radiotherapy as well as external radiotherapy
Tell your doctor or specialist nurse as soon as possible if you have erection problems. They should refer you to a specialist to help you with this.
Early treatment with medicines such as sildenafil or apomorphine hydrochloride might help you to get and keep erections.
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.
Surgery For Prostate Cancer
A radical prostatectomy is the surgical removal of the prostate. This procedure may be performed through traditional open surgery, which involves one large incision in the abdomen. Laparoscopic surgery using the robotic daVinci® Surgical System is a minimally invasive alternative. Robotic surgery only requires a few small incisions in the abdomen, which may result in reduced pain, lower risk of infection and a shorter hospital stay after surgery.
The technology associated with the robotic surgical system is designed to give the surgeon greater precision and control, which may help spare healthy tissue and one or two of the nerve bundles on the sides of the prostate. This often allows the patient to have better erectile functionin both the short term and long term.
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Frequent Urination Burning With Urination And Difficulty Urinating
These are the most common complaints. Occasionally the urinary stream will weaken. Generally these symptoms are managed with medications to help the bladder function better or eliminate burning. Rarely, your doctor may order a urine test. Symptoms will resolve after the end of treatment. Contact your doctor if you see blood in your urine or if you are unable to urinate.
Possible Side Effects Of Radiation Treatment For Prostate Cancer
The radiation used to destroy cancer cells can also hurt normal cells in the nearby area. Side effects from radiation treatment are related to the area of the body being treated. Patients start to have side effects a few weeks into their treatment. While side effects may be unpleasant, there are treatments to help deal with them. Most side effects are temporary and slowly start to go away once treatment is done.
You will be seen by your radiation oncology providers often during treatment. These visits are a chance to ask questions and to talk about any side effects and how to best manage them. You can also call your providers to speak about any side effects.
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Other Questions About Radiation Therapy
Who can I contact if I have 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 they can give you information about resources. They can also discuss housing or transportation needs if you need.
People dealing with certain medical issues find it helpful to share experiences with others in the same situation. Your doctor can give you a list of support groups if youâre interested. Your social worker can offer more information about finding support, and you can look online for support group resources.
What about follow-up care?
After your radiation therapy sessions are complete, youâll visit your doctor for regular follow-up exams and tests. Your doctor will tell you how often to schedule your follow-up appointments.
You can also ask your doctor for a survivorship care plan. This outlines things like:
- The treatment you received
- What side effects you may get in the short and long term
- Who should be following you for testing and care
American Cancer Society: âRadiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer,â âRadiation Therapy Side Effects,â âCancer Therapy,â âEating Well During Treatment.â
OncoLink: âRadiation Therapy: Which type is right for me?â
Memorial Sloan Kettering: âWhat Is Brachytherapy?â
Having Your Planning Scan
The scan will help your doctor work out the exact dose and area of your treatment.
Before your scan, you may need to have a special diet or take medicine to empty your bowel. You may also need to drink water to fill your bladder. This is to get very clear CT pictures to help plan your treatment.
You may also have a very small amount of liquid passed into your rectum to empty your bowel. You may need to do this before each session of radiotherapy.
During the scan, you need to lie still in the same position you will be in for your radiotherapy.
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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.
Image Guided Radiation Therapy
In this type of radiation therapy, CT scans are taken both during the planning process and just before treatment begins. Comparing the two images allows doctors to adjust treatment as needed, since tumors can move between treatments. This allows precision targeting of the cancer while avoiding nearby healthy tissue.
In some cases, doctors will implant a tiny marker in or near the tumor to pinpoint it for IGRT to account for organ/tumor motion even if the body is immobilized.
Calypso is another form of IGRT where the prostate can be tracked during the treatment.
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Online Support Groups For Prostate Cancer
- Us TOO. This organization has more than 200 support groups in the United States and abroad.
- Prostate Cancer Research Institute. This website allows you to search for support groups by state.
- Cancer Care. This site offers 15-week online support groups for people diagnosed with prostate cancer. Co-sponsored by the National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions.
- Male Care. This organization offers online support groups for people with prostate cancer and their partners or caregivers.
- Imerman Angels. This support community offers one-on-one support with a mentor.
Permissions And Ethical Aspects
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland provided permission to obtain the Finnish Cancer Registry patient data. Experts in health psychology revised the questionnaire, and it was mailed to the patients from the National Public Health Institute . The Ethics Committee of Helsinki University Hospital approved the research protocol.
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Having Radiotherapy For Prostate Cancer
You have external beam radiotherapy as an outpatient in the radiotherapy department. Radiotherapy is given using a machine that is like a big x-ray machine. This is called a linear accelerator .
You usually have it as a series of short, daily treatments. The treatments are given from Monday to Friday, with a rest at the weekend. Radiotherapy is not painful, but you will need to lie still while you have it.
You may have radiotherapy over either:
- 4 weeks the dose you get for each treatment session is higher.
- 7 weeks the total overall dose of radiation is higher.
Both ways are effective, and the side effects are the same. You usually have radiotherapy over 4 weeks as it is a shorter treatment.
If you have a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic ablative radiotherapy you have it over a much shorter time.
Your doctor or nurse will explain how long your course of radiotherapy will take. It is safe for you to be with other people during external radiotherapy, including children.
There are different techniques used to treat prostate cancer more effectively. They treat the cancer while protecting healthy tissue and reducing side effects.
How Prostate Cancer Staging And Risk Group Affect Treatment Options
Your treatment choices are determined by several factors, including your cancers stage, aggressiveness and assigned risk stratification . Your age and current general health condition may also affect your choices.
Prostate cancer staging
Prostate cancer staging determines whether the cancer is confined to the prostate gland or whether theres evidence of metastasis, meaning its spread to other areas of the body.
Tools and methods to determine staging may include the prostate-specific antigen test, the digital rectal examination , the Gleason score and the American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM system, which provides information on the tumor, lymph node involvement and metastasis of a cancer. Imaging tests, such as a PET/CT scan, may also help determine your cancers stage.
- Localized: Theres no indication that the cancer has spread beyond the prostate.
- Regional: Theres evidence of cancer cells in nearby lymph nodes or tissue.
- Distant: Theres evidence the cancer has spread to other organs or body parts farther from the prostate.
Almost 90 percent of prostate cancers are diagnosed at the localized or regional stage. The five-year relative survival rate for men diagnosed with prostate cancer at these stages is nearly 100 percent.
Prostate cancer risk assessment
Treatment guidelines for prostate cancer
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What Does External Beam Radiotherapy Involve
You will have your treatment at a hospital radiotherapy department. Youll see a specialist doctor who treats cancer with radiotherapy, known as a clinical oncologist. You may also see a specialist nurse and a specialist radiographer. Theyll talk to you about your treatment plan and ways to manage any side effects.
Before your radiotherapy treatment
Radiotherapy planning session
A week or two before your treatment, youll have a planning session. This is to make sure the radiographers know the exact position, size and shape of your prostate. It will help them make sure the radiotherapy is aimed at your prostate and that the surrounding areas get as little radiation as possible.
During your radiotherapy treatment
You will have one treatment at the hospital five days a week, with a rest over the weekend. You can go home after each treatment.
If you have localised prostate cancer, the course of radiotherapy usually involves 20 treatment sessions over four weeks. You might hear this called hypo-fractionated radiotherapy.
At some hospitals, youll have 37 sessions over seven or eight weeks instead. If you have 37 sessions, youll receive a slightly larger overall dose of radiotherapy but the dose you receive at each session will be lower than if you have 20 sessions.
Its safe for you to be around other people, including children and pregnant women, during your course of radiotherapy. The radiation doesnt stay in your body so you wont give off any radiation.
Are Surgery And Radiation Therapy Ever Used Together
In some cases, your care team may use both surgery and radiation therapy as part of your prostate cancer treatment plan. Typically, radiation therapy is delivered after surgery to target remaining cancer cells or that came back. However, in some situations, doctors may recommend radiation therapy first to kill cancer cells in tissues near the prostate gland before performing the prostatectomy.
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:
Re: Prostate Cancer Late Onset Of Side Effects
I visited the Colon specialist this week, wants to do a flexible sigmoidoscopy next week to look around and see what the problem may be. Hopefully after that we can agree a treatment plan. I updated the Radiation Oncologist and GP, hoping the GP would give me a holistic view, with all the problems, my lack of sleep, pain management and weight loss but he was less than helpful. Told me that I should relax and I am getting the best people involved in my treatment. Not what I was looking for after 4 months of pain and no resolution. So after this procedure next week I may start looking for a new GP.
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Reducing Side Effects During Radiotherapy For Prostate Cancer
Radiation is a very effective treatment for prostate cancer, but in a small percentage of patients it also can cause toxicities to nearby organs, particularly the rectum. Side effects are usually minor and can include hemorrhoidal type bleeding and rectal incontinence. But for a very small subset of patients, the side effects can be more serious.
Patients who take blood thinners or who have Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis, for example, are at greater risk for complications from radiation therapy for prostate cancer than are other patients. For these patients, sparing the rectum is a significant concern.
Serious complications are rare, but as Dr. Greg Cooley, Department of Human Oncology clinical associate professor and radiation oncologist at UW Health East, says, If they happen to one patient, thats one too many.
For patients who are susceptible to complications, Cooley uses a relatively new technique to move the rectum away from the treatment area to reduce the likelihood that the rectum will be exposed to radiation during treatment. He injects a substance called SpaceOAR into the space between the patients prostate and rectum, which pushes these two organs apart by about 1 cm and solidifies into a soft hydrogel that remains stable for three months.
Bowel Dysfunction After Prostate Cancer Treatment
The broad term of bowel dysfunction includes:
Diarrhea or frequent stools
Fecal incontinence or the inability to control bowel movements
All of these side effects are far more common following external beam radiotherapy than any other primary therapy, but as techniques and dose planning strategies improve, even these rates have been dropping.
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How To Cope With Digestive Issues
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can both cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. There are several medications, however, that can prevent and alleviate these digestive concerns. Additionally, making certain dietary changes can help ensure that you get the nutrients you need when dealing with digestive issues.
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?
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Surgery Vs Radiation For Prostate Cancer: Uses Benefits Side Effects
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer other than skin cancer in people who have a prostate . Depending upon the stage of the cancer, different treatment options are available. These treatment options include:
This article will review how surgery and radiation are used to treat prostate cancer. Both can be very effective forms of treatment in men with the disease. Although they may have the same goals of therapy, there are differences between these treatments.
Be sure to see your healthcare provider for the diagnosis, so you can receive the best treatment for you.
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