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What Is Radiation Treatment For Prostate Cancer

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Radiation therapy for prostate cancer: What to expect

At this time, there are several different surgical approaches to carry out the surgery, including retropubic or perineal approaches as well as laparoscopic procedures with freehand or robotic instrumentation. Much debate but no consensus exists about the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches. Further study is needed before obtaining meaningful determinations of the success with different new approaches.

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Can Surgery And Radiation Be Used Together

If both surgery and radiation are in the treatment plan for prostate cancer, surgery is usually done before radiation. Radiation may be given to the area around the prostate after removal to help reduce the risk of cancer returning.

This is often done proactively in people in whom staging after surgery shows high-grade disease with a high risk for recurrence.

Proton Beam Therapy Vs Imrt For Prostate Cancer

But what about proton beam therapy, which costs even more than IMRT but which did no better in the Chen study?

This is not to say that at the end of the day, proton beam radiation is not right for prostate cancer, Potters says. Its just we need to do additional study of it. And given the rate of construction of proton machines on a national level, the data should be more forthcoming to show whether its worth the expense for prostate cancer.

Chen notes that doctors switched from 3D conformational therapy to IMRT even before there was hard data to show it might be better. As more and more medical centers build proton beam facilities, he suggests that doctors might again switch to the next new thing.

We are saying, Wait a minute, lets compare outcomes before we jump to a new therapy,’ Chen says. I dont think this study prevents a prostate cancer patient from choosing proton beam therapy. But it does tell him to ask his doctor about showing him data on whether protons are better.

Much of the data that is available contradicts the Chen study, says Nancy Mendenhall, MD, medical director of the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute and associate chair of the universitys department of radiation oncology.

Mendenhall says the Chen study fails to collect important data, such as the doses radiation patients received, exactly how well their tumors responded to treatment, and exactly which toxicities the patients suffered.

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What Types Of Radiotherapy Are There

There are two common types of external beam radiotherapy:

  • intensity-modulated radiotherapy
  • 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy .

You may also hear about image guided radiotherapy . This is part of all radiotherapy treatments. Taking images of the prostate before each treatment allows your radiographer to make small changes to the area that is going to be treated, in case the prostate has moved slightly since your last treatment session. This makes sure the surrounding healthy tissue gets as little radiation as possible. It also makes sure the whole prostate is treated.

Intensity-modulated radiotherapy

This is the most common type of external beam radiotherapy in the UK. A computer uses the scans from your radiotherapy planning session to map the location, size and shape of your prostate. The radiotherapy machine gives beams of radiation that match the shape of the prostate as closely as possible. This helps to avoid damaging the healthy tissue around it, reducing the risk of side effects.

The strength of the radiation can be controlled so that different areas get a different dose. This means a higher dose of radiation can be given to the prostate without causing too much damage to surrounding tissue.

3D conformal radiotherapy

As with IMRT, the radiation beams are mapped to the size, shape and position of the prostate. But the strength of the radiation cant be controlled in 3D-CRT, so all areas are treated with the same dose.

Other types of radiotherapy

Proton beam therapy

Are There Side Effects Of The Combination Approach To Prostate Cancer Radiation Therapy

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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, Gleason score, extent of visible disease on magnetic resonance imaging we have learned over the years that higher doses of radiation are critical to achieving better results. Some evidence, including a large trial, suggests that for patients with intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer, a combined approach using brachytherapy along with external beam radiation may be best compared to standard dose external beam radiation therapy alone.

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Radiation Treatment For Prostate Cancer

Radiation treatment is the use of radiation beams to destroy cancer cells or slow their growth.

Radiation treatment is usually recommended for prostate cancer:

  • if you are not well enough for surgery
  • if you have had surgery for prostate cancer but there are signs that not all the cancer has been removed
  • to relieve pain caused by cancer that has spread to the bones
  • to shrink blocks in your lymphatic or urinary system
  • when radiation treatment is your preferred treatment option

There are three types of radiation treatment for prostate cancer:

External beam radiotherapyThe most common radiation treatment for prostate cancer. The radiation beams are given from outside the body onto the area affected by cancer.

Low-dose-rate brachytherapy Low-dose-rate brachytherapy is an internal radiation treatment where radioactive seeds are permanently placed inside the prostate gland.

It is used when the cancer is low-risk and found only inside the prostate. It is only available in a few private centres in New Zealand.

After your radiation treatment, you will be radioactive and need to take special care at home. Your treatment team will explain what to do.

High-dose-rate brachytherapy High-dose-rate brachytherapy is an internal radiation treatment where radioactive sources are temporarily placed into the prostate with needles.

It is usually used in combination with external beam radiotherapy to treat higher-risk prostate cancer. It may also be used alone to treat low-risk prostate cancer.

Radiation Dose Enough For Some Prostate Cancers

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 30, 2019 Treating men with low-risk prostate cancer with just one high dose of radiation may be safe and effective, British researchers report.

Therapy for prostate cancer typically involves low-dose radiation given over several days or weeks. Conversely, high-dose radiation is given once through a set of tiny tubes inserted directly into the tumor.

For low-risk patients, a single dose of high-dose radiation is sufficient, but for medium- and high-risk patients, a single dose of 19 Gy isnt enough. They will likely need a bigger dose or going back to multiple doses, said lead researcher Hannah Tharmalingam. Shes a clinical research fellow at the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Northwood, England.

According to Tharmalingam, high-dose radiation could be more convenient for low-risk patients, and less time-consuming and costly for the medical system.

But one radiation oncologist fears that the side effects make it potentially dangerous.

For the study, Tharmalingam and her colleagues treated 441 prostate cancer patients between 2013 and 2018. The cancers were classified as low-, medium- or high-risk.

All of the men were treated with one high dose of 19 Gy of radiation, which is equivalent to the total amount of radiation given over several days with current treatments, Tharmalingam said.

In addition, 166 men were also given hormone therapy. None of the men, however, had surgery or chemotherapy.

Continued

Oncological Outcomes

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How Is Prostate Cancer Treated

Treatment for prostate cancer depends upon the stage of the prostate cancer and an understanding of the pros and cons of treatment. Treatment options include:

  • Watchful waiting. No active treatment is started. This may be appropriate for older men with other serious medical conditions
  • Active watching. May involve regular PSA tests and prostate biopsies
  • Brachytherapy. Small radioactive pellets are placed permanently into the prostate gland

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Hormone Therapy For Prostate Cancer

How Radiation Affects The Prostate | Mark Scholz, MD

Hormone therapy, also called endocrine therapy, uses these hormones to slow or stop cancer growth.

Prostate cancer cells need the male hormone testosterone to grow. There are different ways your treatment team can lower the amount of testosterone in your body.

These treatments include:

Luteinising hormone-releasing hormoneLuteinising hormone-releasing hormone lowers the amount of testosterone made in the testicles. LHRH therapy is usually given as a monthly or three-monthly injection.

Anti-androgen tabletsAndrogen is another hormone in the body. Anti-androgen tablets stop testosterone from helping the growth of prostate cancer. They are normally used when LHRH therapy is no longer working well.

AbirateroneAbiraterone is a hormone therapy that stops your body from making testosterone. This treatment is used for men with advanced prostate cancer where other treatments are no longer working.

OrchidectomyAn orchidectomy is a small operation where the testicles are permanently removed. This treatment is not commonly used.

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What Side Effects Will I Have

During your treatment, radiation must pass through your skin. You may notice some skin changes in the area exposed to radiation.

Your skin may become red, swollen, warm, and sensitive, as if you have a sunburn. It may peel or become moist and tender. Depending on the dose of radiation you receive, you may notice hair loss or less sweat within the treated area.

These skin reactions are common and temporary. Theyâll fade gradually within 4 to 6 weeks after you finish your treatment. If you notice any skin changes outside the treated area, tell your doctor or nurse.

Long-term side effects, which can last up to a year or longer after treatment, may include:

  • A slight darkening of the skin
  • Skins feels more or less sensitive
  • A thickening of tissue or skin

Other possible side effects of external beam radiation therapy are:

Tiredness. Your fatigue might not lift until a few weeks or months after you finish getting radiation therapy.

Lymphedema. If radiation therapy damages the lymph nodes around your prostate gland, the fluid can build up in your legs or genital area. That can bring on swelling and pain. Physical therapy can usually treat lymphedema, but it might not go away completely.

Urinary problems. Radiation can irritate your bladder, and that could lead to a condition called radiation cystitis. You might:

  • Have to pee more often
  • Feel like it burns when you pee
  • Notice blood in your urine

Heres What You Should Know About This Treatment Option

Men who get diagnosed with prostate cancer have several options to choose from for their next step. Many men with slow-growing, low-risk cancer follow active surveillance, a wait-and-see approach that monitors the cancer for changes.

But if the cancer shows higher risk or has already begun to spread, other treatments are recommended. There are two options: surgery to remove the prostate or radiation to destroy the cancer cells.

Studies comparing these two approaches demonstrate no advantage of one over the other with respect to cancer control. Your path will depend on factors like your current health, the specifics of your cancer, and personal preference. Yet for many men, radiation can be the better option.

“Its much more precise than the traditional radiation used for other kinds of cancer, and research also has found that long-term quality of life is often better, with fewer adverse health effects compared to surgery,” says Dr. Anthony DAmico, a radiation oncologist with Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Womens Hospital.

There are two main ways to deliver radiation to the prostate: external beam radiation and brachytherapy.

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Are There Side Effects Of The Combination Approach

There is a slightly higher chance that patients who receive the combined therapy will have rectal irritation or urinary side effects. This is common with prostate cancer radiation therapy because the radiation can damage cells in the tissues surrounding the prostate. But at MSK, we routinely use sophisticated computer-based planning techniques that help us reduce the dose given to normal tissues such as the rectum, bladder, and urethra, lessening the chances of side effects and complications. We have also found that, when treating with the combined approach, using the high-dose-rate brachytherapy compared to low-dose-rate brachytherapy may have less in the way of side effects.

In addition, at MSK, we routinely use a rectal spacer gel, which we inject between the prostate and the rectum while the patient is under mild anesthesia, to create a buffer between these two tissues. By creating this space, we can further reduce the dose of radiation the rectum is exposed to. This leads to fewer side effects for the patient. The rectal spacer gel is biodegradable and dissolves on its own within the body after a few months.

Will Radiation Therapy Make Me Tired

Hugh S

Everyone has their own energy level, so radiation treatment will affect each person differently.

People often feel fatigue after several weeks of treatment. For most, this fatigue is mild. But some people lose a lot of energy and need to change their daily routine.

If your doctor thinks you should limit how active you are, theyâll discuss it with you.

To minimize fatigue while youâre receiving radiation treatment:

  • Get enough rest.
  • Pace yourself, and plan rest breaks throughout your day.

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What Is Proton Beam Radiation Therapy

This type of therapy treats tumors with protons instead of X-ray radiation. It may be able to deliver more radiation specifically to a prostate cancer tumor with less damage to normal tissue.

Proton beam therapy might be a safe treatment option when a doctor decides that using X-rays could be risky for a patient. But so far, research hasnât shown that it works better than traditional radiation therapy against solid cancers in adults.

The side effects of proton beam therapy are similar to the ones that other types of radiation treatment bring on. But since proton therapy may be less damaging to normal tissue, the side effects might be milder.

After treatment, you may gradually have ones like:

  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Sore, reddened skin around the area where you got treated
  • Hair loss around the treatment spot

One of the disadvantages of proton therapy is that it might not be covered by all insurance companies. Youâd need to check with your health plan to find out.

Proton therapy also isnât widely available. You can get it only at certain centers in the U.S.

The Future Of Hormone Therapy For Prostate Cancer

Some experts arent sure how much further we can improve hormone therapy for prostate cancer.

Im not saying that weve reached the end of what we can do with hormonal therapy, Thrasher tells WebMD, but there are only so many ways to shut down the hormonal effects. The cancer will still eventually escape.

Brooks argues that, overall, prostate cancer is only moderately affected by hormones. You can only do so much manipulating the levels of hormones, says Brooks. We have to find better ways to fight the basis of the cancer cells.

Thrasher and Brooks have more hope that the next breakthroughs will come with different approaches, like chemotherapy or vaccines.

But Holden remains optimistic about the future of hormone therapy for prostate cancer.

Cancer cells eventually figure out how to survive, how to overcome a specific hormone therapy, he says. But if we have enough types of drugs and can keep changing the hormone therapy, we might be able to keep the cancer cells in a state of confusion. We could change therapies before they have a chance to adapt.

Its like an endless chess game, he says. You may not ever win, but you might be able to prolong the game indefinitely. I think that hormone therapy still has a lot of promise. We just need to develop better anti-androgens, and more varieties of them.

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Brachytherapy Or Internal Radiation Therapy

Internal radiation therapy , also known as brachytherapy, involves placing radioactive seeds on the prostate gland inside the body. The seeds are around the size of a grain of rice.

The implant may be temporary or permanent:

  • Temporary: The doctor inserts the seeds into a small tube and leaves them there for between 5-15 minutes . A person may need 1-4 sessions, typically over the course of 2 days.
  • Permanent: The doctor will place around 1000 radioactive seeds that release radiation for several weeks to months. Often, they leave the seeds in place when not active since they likely will not cause discomfort.

Before inserting the seeds, the doctor will give the patient either a general or local anesthetic. They may use imaging technology to help ensure they position the seeds accurately.

Proton Beam Radiati On Therapy

Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer – Short Video

Proton beam radiation therapy capitalizes on a unique physical property of high energy protons generated from a cyclotron. The accelerated charged particles travel through tissue until reaching a depth determined by their energy. Once they reach that depth, the remainder of the radiation dose is deposited in a sharp Bragg peak with no dose going beyond that point. When multiple proton beams are used, a very sharp and tight radiation dose distribution is created. This modality is especially attractive when tumors are in close proximity to sensitive organs. PCa is one of the more common indications in which proton therapy is utilized.

At Washington University in St. Louis we are collaborating with investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School conducting a randomized clinical trial of IG-IMRT versus proton beam radiation in men with low and intermediate risk PCa. The PARTIQoL trial is seeking to measure and compare relative the impact of the two modalities on patient quality of life after treatment. Figure 1 provides a comparison of these two treatment modalities.

Axial CT slice showing conformality of intensity modulated radiation therapy. Radio-opaque markers are apparent in the anterior aspect of the prostate gland. Axial CT slice showing conformality of proton beam radiation therapy in the same patient as panel a. More sparing of the anterior-lateral rectal wall and less dose to peripheral tissues is apparent.

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