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What To Expect After Radiation Treatment For Prostate Cancer

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During Treatment For Advanced Prostate Cancer

What to Expect after Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer

When treatments such as hormone therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy are used for more advanced prostate cancer, the PSA level can help show how well the treatment is working or when it might be time to try a different treatment.

Treatments should lower the PSA level , although in some cases they may just help keep it from rising further, or even just slow the rise. Of course, other factors, such as whether youre having symptoms from your cancer and whether imaging tests show it is growing, are also important when deciding if it might be time to change treatments.

If the cancer has spread outside the prostate, the actual PSA level is often not as important as whether it changes, and how quickly it changes. The PSA level itself does not predict whether or not a man will have symptoms or how long he will live. Many men have very high PSA levels and feel just fine. Other men with low PSA levels can have symptoms.

What Is Intermittent Adt

Researchers have investigated whether a technique called intermittent androgen deprivation can delay the development of hormone resistance. With intermittent androgen deprivation, hormone therapy is given in cycles with breaks between drug administrations, rather than continuously. An additional potential benefit of this approach is that the temporary break from the side effects of hormone therapy may improve a mans quality of life.

Randomized clinical trials have shown similar overall survival with continuous ADT or intermittent ADT among men with metastatic or recurrent prostate cancer, with a reduction in some side effects for intermittent ADT .

What Are The Side Effects Of External Beam Radiation Therapy

As with most prostate cancer treatments, external beam radiation therapy can also cause side effects. The severity can depend on the type of radiation, dose size, length of treatment and area of treatments. These frequently include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Secondary malignancy

If you are considering prostate cancer treatment with a form of EBRT, talk with your radiation oncologist to discuss options, potential side effects, and how those side effects will be managed.

Recently, the FDA approved the use of Space OAR, a hydrogel product for men choosing radiation therapy that can reduce the radiation received by the rectum during treatment. This can help decrease the chances of developing rectal complications such as the inability to control your bowels. The hydrogel is injected between the prostate and rectum where the gel solidifies and creates a space before radiation begins. To learn more about this product, visit the manufacturers site here.

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What Are The Different Types Of Internal Radiation Therapy

Brachytherapy and radiopharmaceuticals are both considered internal radiation therapies because they both work after being inserted inside the body, rather than being directed from outside. However, the similarities mostly end there. Brachytherapy works by implanting radioactive material into the prostate and is used for localized prostate cancer. Radiopharmaceuticals are injected into the bloodstream and are used for advanced, metastatic prostate cancer. Read on to find the details of each.

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Tips To Get The Most From Your Follow

What to expect After Brachytherapy For Prostate most cancers

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.

Make notes

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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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, 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.

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Q: What Are The Different Types Of Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer

There are several forms of radiation therapy, but they can be broken down into two main categories:

  • External Beam Radiation This form of therapy is more common, and delivers radiation from outside your body to treat cancer. This type of therapy can be used on its own or in combination with brachytherapy, depending on how aggressive your cancer is. There are three main techniques of delivering EBRT for prostate cancer:
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy IMRT uses computer programs to treat a tumor from multiple angles while optimizing this approach to minimize risk of high doses to critical healthy tissues nearby.
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy SBRT is an advanced treatment option that provides high doses per treatment that are precisely targeted. Treatment can be delivered in as little as five sessions.
  • Proton therapy Unlike the EBRT techniques described above, which use x-rays, protons therapy uses protons. Because of their different physical properties, protons can deposit most of their energy over a shorter distance than x-rays. This further decreases radiation dose to nearby tissues while still enabling doctors to treat the tumor.
  • Brachytherapy This type of therapy, also known as internal radiation involves placing radioactive seeds into the tumor. There are high-dose rate and low-dose rate brachytherapy options. This treatment is typically used when patients have advanced stage prostate cancer.
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    How Can I Choose From Among The Options

    In addition to talking with family and friends, you will need a team of physicians to help advise you. It is advisable that you meet with all of the specialists involved in your cancer treatment planning prior to making a decision regarding treatment, including:

    • your primary care physician as well as a urologist to discuss surgery
    • a radiation oncologist to discuss radiation therapy.

    Once you have met with these doctors, you will be able to make a more informed decision regarding your treatment options. If you have an early-stage cancer or moderately advanced cancer and there is no evidence of spread to other organs , the two major options for treatment are surgery or radiation therapy .

    If your cancer is advanced and you require hormonal suppression therapy or chemotherapy, then you will also need a medical oncologist, who administers these drugs. Hormone-ablation therapy, which is often used to treat more advanced prostate cancer by suppressing your androgen hormones since most prostate cancer growth is stimulated by androgen or testosterone. The androgen suppression treatment can be administered by your internist, urologist, radiation oncologist or medical oncologist. Depending on the stage of the cancer, hormone suppression therapy may be used in addition to radiation therapy to help control the cancer. Hormone suppression therapy may be administered for as little as four to six months, or for as long as two to three years.

    What Side Effects May I Have During Or After My Imrt Treatments

    Radiation therapy for prostate cancer: What to expect

    There are several side effects that you may have during or after your IMRT treatments. They are urinary problems, bowel problems, erectile dysfunction or impotence , skin problems, loss of appetite and tiredness. Remember, that IMRT treatments are focused on your prostate cancer. This protects the healthy cells around your prostate, which means you may have fewer side effects and that the side effects you do have wont be as bad.

    The urinary problems you may have are:

    The bowel problems you may have are:

    • Soreness in your rectal areaYou may have soreness in your rectal area. This usually goes away by itself. If you are very sore, let you doctor or health care team know. There are medicines and things that you can do to be more comfortable.
    • Rectal Urgency

    The erectile dysfunction problem you may have is:

    • Fewer erectionsMost men do not have problems with erections or intercourse during or right after IMRT. Over time, you may find that you are not having as many erections as you used to. This is because the radiation can harm the nerves near your prostate that help you have erections. Talk to your doctor or health care team if you have a problem like this.

    The skin problems you may have are:

    Another problem you may have is:

    If you have trouble figuring out how to make changes to deal with your tiredness, you may want to talk with your doctor or health care team.

    Another problem you may have is:

    Managing your side effects.

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    Who Will Help Me During My Imrt Treatments

    Many people will help you with your IMRT treatment and care. This group of health care providers is often called your “radiation therapy team.” They work together to give you care that is just right for you. Your radiation therapy team includes a:

    • Radiation oncologist. This is a doctor who uses radiation therapy to treat patients with cancer. Your radiation oncologist:
    • Will decide how much radiation you will get for your prostate cancer treatment
    • Plans how your prostate cancer treatment will be given
    • Closely follows you during your prostate cancer treatment
    • And, directs any care you need to help with any side effects you may have during and after your prostate cancer treatment

    The radiation oncologist will work with the other doctors, nurses, and health care providers on your team. After your treatment is over, your radiation oncologist will see you for follow-up visits. At these visits, your radiation oncologist will find out how well the radiation worked to treat your prostate cancer and will help you with any side effects that you may have.

  • You. You are also part of your radiation therapy team. Your role is to:
  • Be on time for all your IMRT appointments
  • Ask your doctor and health care team about any questions you have and to talk to them about your concerns
  • Let doctor and health care team know if you have any side effects
  • Tell your doctor or health care team if you have any pain and
  • What Happens Between Appointments

    Contact your doctor or nurse if you have any concerns or get any new symptoms or side effects between your follow-up appointments.

    Its important to speak to them if youre concerned about anything dont worry about them being too busy.

    You can get support or advice over the telephone, or they might bring forward the date of your nextfollow-up appointment.

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    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.

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    Side Effects Of External Radiotherapy

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    Radiotherapy to the prostate can cause some side effects, such as loose or watery poo and passing wee more often.

    Side effects tend to start a week or 2 after the radiotherapy begins. They gradually get worse during the treatment and for a couple of weeks after the treatment ends. But they usually begin to improve after around 2 weeks or so.

    These side effects vary from person to person. You may not have all of the effects mentioned.

    Side effects can include:

    You might feel tired during your treatment. It tends to get worse as the treatment goes on. You might also feel weak and lack energy. Rest when you need to.

    Tiredness can carry on for some weeks after the treatment has ended but it usually improves gradually.

    Various things can help you to reduce tiredness and cope with it, such as exercise. Some research has shown that taking gentle exercise can give you more energy. Its important to balance exercise with resting.

    Your skin in the treatment area might get sore, or redden or darken. Following these tips can help with this:

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    External Beam Radiation Therapy

    In EBRT, beams of radiation are focused on the prostate gland from a machine outside the body. This type of radiation can be used to try to cure earlier stage cancers, or to help relieve symptoms such as bone pain if the cancer has spread to a specific area of bone.

    You will usually go for treatment 5 days a week in an outpatient center for at least several weeks, depending on why the radiation is being given. Each treatment is much like getting an x-ray. The radiation is stronger than that used for an x-ray, but the procedure typically is painless. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, although the setup time getting you into place for treatment takes longer.

    Newer EBRT techniques focus the radiation more precisely on the tumor. This lets doctors give higher doses of radiation to the tumor while reducing the radiation exposure to nearby healthy tissues.

    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

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    Dry Orgasm And Infertility

    Both the prostate and the glands responsible for semen production are removed during surgery, which is a common prostate cancer treatment. If you received this treatment, youd still be able to have an orgasm but youd no longer ejaculate.

    This means that youll no longer be fertile. If you plan to have children in the future, you may consider banking your sperm before your surgery.

    Coping With Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy

    What to Expect Before Starting Radiation Treatment for Prostate Cancer

    Everyoneâs experience with radiation therapy is different. Side effects vary from person to person, even when given the same type of treatment. Before your treatment, ask your health care team which physical side effects are possible and what to watch for. There can also be emotional side effects, and seeking out mental health support to help with anxiety or stress is important. Ask your health care team about ways to take care of yourself during the treatment period, including getting enough rest, eating well, and staying hydrated. Ask whether there are any restrictions on your regular exercise schedule or other physical activities.

    And, continue talking with the team throughout your treatment. Always tell your health care team when side effects first appear, worsen, or continue despite treatment. That will allow your health care team to provide ways to help you feel better during and after treatment.

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