Sunday, May 29, 2022

What Are The Side Effects Of Radiation For Prostate Cancer

Must read

What Happens During Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy Side Effects for Prostate Cancer Patients

Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or a stream of particles . High doses of radiation can destroy abnormal cancer cells. Each treatment destroys some of the cancer cells at a microscopic level. Patients do not feel the radiation during treatment. They will only hear some electrical noise and may see light from the machine.

Side Effects Of Radiation For Prostate Cancer

The primary potential side effects of radiation treatment for prostate cancer include bowel problems, urinary problems and sexual function issues.

According to patient-reported outcomes measuring quality of life from men who participated in the 10-year, randomized Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment trial, men who were treated with radiation reported little increase in urinary leakage after radiation therapy. They also reported less sexual dysfunction when compared to men who were treated with surgery. However, men treated with radiation reported a higher incidence of bowel problems, such as loose and bloody stools. These side effects are often short-term for most patients, but some experience long-term side effects.

If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Abdomen

If you are getting radiation to your stomach or some part of the abdomen , you may have side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Eating or avoiding certain foods can help with some of these problems, so diet planning is an important part of radiation treatment of the stomach or abdomen. Ask your cancer care team about what you can expect, and what medicines you should take to help relieve these problems. Check with your cancer care team about any home remedies or over-the-counter drugs youre thinking about using.

These problems should get better when treatment is over.

Managing nausea

Some people feel queasy for a few hours right after radiation therapy. If you have this problem, try not eating for a couple of hours before and after your treatment. You may handle the treatment better on an empty stomach. If the problem doesnt go away, ask your cancer care team about medicines to help prevent and treat nausea. Be sure to take the medicine exactly as you are told to do.

If you notice nausea before your treatment, try eating a bland snack, like toast or crackers, and try to relax as much as possible. See Nausea and Vomiting to get tips to help an upset stomach and learn more about how to manage these side effects.

Managing diarrhea

Read Also: Cranberry Juice Good For Prostate

Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy

Compared to earlier radiation methods, these modern techniques reduce the chance of urinary and bowel problems.

With several treatment options available, your doctor will work with you to develop and oversee a treatment plan that precisely addresses your prostate cancer while minimizing the risk to surrounding tissues.

This is why it is important to choose an experienced radiation oncologist who specializes in the management of prostate cancer. High volume centers where practitioners have significant experience and treat large numbers of patients with prostate cancer may be associated with good outcomes and fewer lasting problems related to treatment. The majority of patients who undergo radiation do not have permanent effects on bowel or urinary function, and patients who develop erectile difficulty after these therapies can often be treated successfully with medications such as sildenafil or tadalafil.

Radical Prostatectomy vs. Radiation: How to Compare the Results

Making a decision about prostate cancer treatment is not easy. When considering radiation therapy or radical prostatectomy, one of your top concerns is seeking reassurance that your cancer will be cured following treatment.

What Are The Different Types Of External Beam Radiation Therapy

Long Term Side Effects Of Radiation For Prostate Cancer

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.

Recommended Reading: Is Cranberry Juice Good For The Prostate

What The Results Showed

After five years, there were no significant differences in survival associated with any of the selected treatments. Just one man in the favorable risk category died from prostate cancer during the study, and there were eight deaths from the disease in the unfavorable risk group.

Many men in the study had initial problems with sexual, bowel, urinary, and hormonal functioning. Brachytherapy caused more irritative urinary problems during the initial six months than the other treatments, but then those symptoms steadily improved. Brachytherapy and EBRT were associated with minor bowel symptoms such as urgency, bleeding, frequency, and pain that resolved within a year in men from both risk groups.

Dr. Marc Garnick, Gorman Brothers Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and editor in chief of HarvardProstateKnowledge.org, agreed the study provides a valuable resource that adds to existing information. Yet he cautioned against brachytherapy, warning that this particular treatment in some cases has long-term urinary side effects that can significantly alter a patients quality of life. I do not routinely recommend brachytherapy, Garnick said. This is especially true in patients with a pre-existing history of urinary tract infections or prostatitis.

Do We Know Which Treatment Is Better For Prostate Cancer Brachytherapy Or External Beam Radiation

Its not a question of which therapy is better but rather which therapy is the most tailored, pinpointed radiation for the patients specific disease.

When it comes to early stages of disease, patients very frequently do well with either brachytherapy or external beam radiation. Success rates of around 90% or higher can be achieved with either approach. When the disease is somewhat more advanced based on the PSA level or the Gleason score or visible evidence of disease on an MRI we have learned over the years that higher doses of radiation are critical to achieving better results. Some evidence suggests that for patients with intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer, a combined approach using brachytherapy along with external beam radiation may be best.

Data that we have published recently show that for patients with intermediate-risk disease, the combination of external beam radiation with brachytherapy not only provides better biochemical control, in terms of PSA level, but also reduces the risk of distant metastases, or spread of the disease. Another recent study from Canada, which compared outcomes in patients who were treated with external beam radiation or a combination approach, found superior results when the combined approach was used. These studies provide strong evidence that higher doses of radiation provide an important benefit to patients with intermediate-risk and high-risk prostate cancers.

Don’t Miss: Finding Prostate Externally

> > > One Crazy Prostate Trick All Men Over 40 Should Try

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.

A physician can recommend a number of treatments to address an enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate will require surgery to relieve the symptoms. In most cases, surgical treatment for an enlargement of the penis is enough. Moreover, a doctor may recommend a course of treatment based on symptoms. A TURP procedure is not painful and requires less recovery time than open surgery. The recovery period will be shorter and less traumatic.

If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Breast

What Are the Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Radiation?

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

Don’t Miss: Prostatic Neoplasms

Managing Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy

Advances in the precision of radiation therapy have lessened the risk of complications. And our doctors are constantly developing new ways to minimize side effects. For example, we are one of the few hospitals in the United States using an FDA-approved biodegradable gel inserted before treatment to protect the rectum.

Still, radiation can cause short- and long-term side effects, including incontinence , erectile dysfunction, bowel problems, fatigue, and symptoms in other parts of the body .

Any side effects you experience depend on which part of the body receives radiation. In the case of such techniques as image-guided radiation therapy and stereotactic radiosurgery, it also depends on which normal structures are in the path of the radiations beam. In addition, radiation therapy is sometimes delivered in combination with hormonal therapy, which can cause impotence. Our experts will work closely with you and your medical team to manage any treatment-related difficulties you may experience, such as bladder, bowel, or erectile dysfunction. However, because of the sophisticated targeting systems we use, severe long-term bladder and bowel problems are now rare.

During the course of radiation treatments, some men experience diarrhea or frequent and uncomfortable urination. Please tell your treatment team if you have any of these problems. We can recommend medications and other methods that can help alleviate these uncomfortable side effects.

Who Should Consider External Beam Radiation Therapy

In most cases, external beam radiation therapy is used for men with localized prostate cancer . The intent of EBRT in this case is to kill the tumor while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible. Sometimes it is used in more advanced cases. For example, it can be used along with hormone therapy, or used to relieve pain from bone metastases.

Don’t Miss: Can Zytiga Cure Prostate Cancer

Questions To Ask Your Doctor Nurse Or Radiographer

You may find it helpful to keep a note of any questions you have to take to your next appointment.

  • What type of radiotherapy will I have?
  • How many sessions will I need?
  • What other treatment options do I have?
  • What are the possible side effects and how long will they last?
  • What treatments are available to manage the possible side effects from radiotherapy?
  • Will I have hormone therapy and will this carry on after radiotherapy?
  • How and when will I know if radiotherapy has worked?
  • If the radiotherapy doesnt work, which other treatments can I have?
  • Who should I contact if I have any questions?
  • What support is there to help manage long-term side effects?

If I Choose Radiation Therapy Will Surgical Treatment Still Be An Option

Prostate Cancer Side Effects

Your doctor may use radiation therapy as your primary treatment. It is important to note that the cure rates for surgery and radiation are similar. Therefore, you have the same risk of cancer recurring if surgery is performed.

If it is not successful, your doctor will likely not consider surgery or repeat radiation therapy due to the risk of serious complications. If your doctor recommends surgery after radiation or additional radiation, the doctor performing the re-treatment or surgery should have a significant level of experience. There are experimental clinical studies being evaluated for use of very localized re-irradiation for this group of patients. Some patients for whom radiation is not effective are treated with systemic therapy or closely monitored. Additional treatment will depend on the PSA level and rate of rise of the PSA.

You May Like: Does Retrograde Ejaculation Go Away

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.

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.

Don’t Miss: Do Female Have Prostate

Life After Prostate Cancer Treatment

Adjusting to life after prostate cancer treatment can take time. For some men, the emotional impact of what they have been through may not hit them until they have finished treatment. For others, working through the physical side effects is their immediate focus.

Although prostate cancer treatment can be lifesaving, it can also take a toll on the body. This can result in a disruption to normal urinary, bowel and sexual function.

Whether you have surgery, radiation or hormone therapy, you are likely to have side effects.

Its important to talk with your health care provider about these side effects before you start treatment, so you can learn about the range of options to treat them, says Anne Calvaresi, DNP, CRNP, RNFA, Urology Nurse Practitioner at the Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

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

What Are Some Radiation Treatment Side Effects for Prostate Cancer Patients?

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.

Don’t Miss: Female Prostate Equivalent

Active Surveillance And Watchful Waiting

If prostate cancer is in an early stage, is growing slowly, and treating the cancer would cause more problems than the disease itself, a doctor may recommend active surveillance or watchful waiting.

Active surveillance. Prostate cancer treatments may seriously affect a person’s quality of life. These treatments can cause side effects, such as erectile dysfunction, which is when someone is unable to get and maintain an erection, and incontinence, which is when a person cannot control their urine flow or bowel function. In addition, many prostate cancers grow slowly and cause no symptoms or problems. For this reason, many people may consider delaying cancer treatment rather than starting treatment right away. This is called active surveillance. During active surveillance, the cancer is closely monitored for signs that it is worsening. If the cancer is found to be worsening, treatment will begin.

ASCO encourages the following testing schedule for active surveillance:

  • A PSA test every 3 to 6 months

  • A DRE at least once every year

  • Another prostate biopsy within 6 to 12 months, then a biopsy at least every 2 to 5 years

Treatment should begin if the results of the tests done during active surveillance show signs of the cancer becoming more aggressive or spreading, if the cancer causes pain, or if the cancer blocks the urinary tract.

Treatment Vs Side Effects

Prostate cancer treatment side effects can vary greatly from little to none, or create lifetime issues. Studying what treatments cause what side effects should be part of your treatment decision. Consenting to treatment means you understand the nature of the treatment, risks, benefits and alternatives.

Treatment or the combination of treatments in advanced cases can lead to a wide range of side effects. Prostate cancer treatment side effects include erectile dysfunction, incontinence, urinary issues, diarrhea, hot flashes, weight gain, loss of muscle, vomiting and hair loss. There are short term prostate cancer treatment side effects that subside over time, as well as long term side effects that can last for years. Question your Doctor about the side effects of the treatment you have selected. Make an informed decision.

Prostate cancer treatment side effects can vary greatly from little to none, or create lifetime issues. Studying what treatments cause what side effects should be part of your treatment decision. Consenting to treatment means you understand the nature of the treatment, risks, benefits and alternatives.

Also Check: Super Beta Prostate Advanced Side Effects

More articles

Popular Articles