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Common Side Effects Of Prostate Radiation

How Long Does Imrt Treatment Last

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer | Prostate Cancer Staging Guide

IMRT is usually given to you five days a week for four to eight weeks. The total dose of radiation and the number of treatments you need will depend on the size of your prostate cancer, your general health, and other medical treatments you may need.

Using many small doses of radiation each day rather than a few large doses helps protect your healthy cells in the treatment area. Weekend rest breaks let your healthy cells get better.

It is very important that you have all of your scheduled IMRT treatments. If you miss or put off your radiation treatments, your radiation therapy might not work as well as if you had all your radiation treatments.

Does Msk Offer Proton Therapy For Prostate Cancer

Some men with prostate cancer may choose to receive another form of external-beam radiation therapy called proton therapy. Proton therapy can deliver a high radiation dose to the prostate while lowering the radiation dose to normal surrounding tissue. It is unclear if there is any advantage to proton therapy compared with IMRT. We are now studying how these approaches compare in terms of side effects and outcomes at the New York Proton Center. These efforts are being led by radiation oncologist Daniel Gorovets.

How Prostate Cancer Staging And Risk Stratification 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.

The four stages of prostate cancer are subdivided into more precise categories, but we generally refer to three groups that indicate how far the cancer has spread:

Localized, meaning theres no indication that the cancer has spread beyond the prostate

Regional, meaning theres evidence of cancer cells in nearby lymph nodes or tissue

Distant, meaning 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

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Prostate Cancer: Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy, also called X-ray therapy, uses high levels of radiation to kill prostate cancer cells or keep them from growing and dividing while minimizing damage to healthy cells.

Radiation can be given from a machine outside the body and directed at the prostate . Or a surgeon can place radioactive materials into the tumor . These radioactive materials can be temporary or permanent.

Can Erectile Dysfunction Be Treated

Prostate Cancer Side Effects

There are several treatment and management options for erectile dysfunction. However, your ability to have an erection after prostate cancer treatment can be affected by several things:

  • How good your erections were before treatment
  • Other medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Other medicines you may take
  • Your lifestyle, drinking, or smoking
  • The type of treatment you had

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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.

What Are The Side Effects Of Prostate Radiation

Even though both external beam radiation and brachytherapy use the same radiation as the cure from the cancer cells, they have some common side effects.

  • Bowel problems: Radiation proctitis is a very common inflammation of the rectum that occurs as a result of the radiation treatment of prostate cancer where damage to the rectum was acquired. Proctitis can lead to diarrhea, with the blood in the stool, and rectal leakage. Most of these problems go away over time, but in rare cases, normal bowel function does not return. In order to minimize bowel problems, doctors will advise what kind of diet to follow during radiation therapy to help limit bowel movement during treatment.
  • Urinary problems: Radiation cystitis is the side effect of inflammation and subsequent destruction of the normal work of the urinary bladder at the cellular level after the usage of radiation in the treatment. Patients will feel the need to urinate more often, have a burning sensation while the urinate process, and/or find blood in the urine itself. Urinary problems usually improve over time, but in some men, they never go away.
  • Erection problems : Patience after the treatment, with radiation or through surgery, has the same rate of impotence level. These problems do not occur right after radiation therapy but are slowly developing over time. The effect of radiation treatment is more visible if the patient is elderly, where impotence is already on the low level.

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The Success Rate Of Prostate Surgery

Survival rates can tell you how many people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed. For example, if you have stage 3 colon cancer, there is a 66% chance that 5 years later, you will be alive. But the rates cannot tell you how long you will live. However, they may help give you an idea of how likely your treatment will be successful.

Survival rates are estimates. They are based on data from many people who have had cancer before. These numbers might be confusing because they dont tell you what will happen, but they can help doctors decide treatments. Talk with your doctor to see if these statistics apply to you because they know about your situation.

A relative survival rate tells how likely a person is to survive a particular type of cancer. I.e., if the 5-year close survival rate for prostate cancer is 90%, it means that men who have this type of cancer are about 90% as likely as other men to live a minimum of 5 years after being diagnosed with the disease.

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Talk With Your Doctor About Side Effects And What To Expect

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Your doctor can help you determine whether radiation therapy is right for you.

In addition, an oncologist a doctor specializing in cancer treatment can help you learn how to minimize your chance of developing side effects.

They can also refer you to local support groups where you can get in touch with other people who have undergone or are undergoing the same treatment.

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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.

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Who Should Consider Taking Radiopharmaceuticals

Radiopharmaceuticals are given through a vein to men with metastatic prostate cancer that has spread widely to the bone. Strontium89 and Samarium-153 are radiopharmaceuticals given to reduce the pain caused by the bone cancer. Radium-223, or Xofigo®, is a radiopharmaceutical given to prolong life.

The side effects associated with radiopharmaceuticals are mainly the suppression, or lowering, of white blood cell and platelet levels in the blood. Your doctor will be able to assess whether your body can handle this side effect before you are given the treatment and will monitor your levels after you receive it. Your doctor, specialist nurse, or nuclear medicine practitioner will be able to give you more information about the treatment and possible side effects.

If your doctor has told you that your bone metastases have spread, you may be a candidate for a radiopharmaceutical. Speak with your oncology team to see if one of these treatments may be right for you.

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Dealing With Treatment Side Effects

Often there are unwanted and unexpected side effects that result from the various treatments for prostate cancer. These are not from the cancer itself, but from the surgery, radiation or hormone therapy or chemotherapy that are typically used to treat the disease.

All treatments will have some side effects, some short term, and some are long term. Short-term side effects tend to be common and reversible or diminishing. Long-term side effects are less common and are not always fully reversible.

Those side effects vary from person to person and as well as physical, they can also effect men psychologically and emotionally. Men about to undergo treatment should seek out information on what the potential side effects might be from their upcoming treatment.

Urinary Problems

Surgery can affect the ability to control the bladder. It can lead to incontinence or leaking urine when coughing or with a sudden movement. Radiation treatment can lead to other problems with urination.

Sometimes men who have had surgery or radiation therapy can experience a slowing of their urine stream and a feeling they are not able to completely empty their bladder. In rare cases, men who have had radiation therapy may also experience blood in the urine. Sometimes it can be due to the prostate cancer treatment, but it can also be a sign of other health issues that should be investigated.

It is important to report any changes or concerns about your urinary symptoms to your healthcare team.

Bowel Problems

What Is 3d Conformal Radiation Therapy

Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer

Itâs a procedure that uses a computer to make a three-dimensional picture of your tumor. It helps your treatment team deliver the highest possible dose of radiation to the tumor while minimizing the damage to normal tissue.

3D conformal radiation therapy uses CT-based treatment combined with three-dimensional images of a prostate tumor. CT is short for computed tomography, which uses X-rays to produce detailed pictures inside the body.

So far, this technique has worked well for localized tumors such as prostate cancer limited to the prostate gland.

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Remission And The Chance Of Recurrence

A remission is when cancer cannot be detected in the body and there are no symptoms. This may also be called having no evidence of disease or NED.

A remission can be temporary or permanent. This uncertainty causes many people to worry that the cancer will come back. Although there are treatments to help prevent a recurrence, such as hormonal therapy and radiation therapy, it is important to talk with your doctor about the possibility of the cancer returning. There are tools your doctor can use, called nomograms, to estimate someone’s risk of recurrence. Understanding your risk of recurrence and the treatment options may help you feel more prepared if the cancer does return. Learn more about coping with the fear of recurrence.

In general, following surgery or radiation therapy, the PSA level in the blood usually drops. If the PSA level starts to rise again, it may be a sign that the cancer has come back. If the cancer returns after the original treatment, it is called recurrent cancer.

When this occurs, a new cycle of testing will begin again to learn as much as possible about the recurrence, including where the recurrence is located. The cancer may come back in the prostate , in the tissues or lymph nodes near the prostate , or in another part of the body, such as the bones, lungs, or liver . Sometimes the doctor cannot find a tumor even though the PSA level has increased. This is known as a PSA recurrence or biochemical recurrence.

How To Handle Sexual And Reproductive Side Effects

Some men experience erectile dysfunction after prostate cancer treatment. Depending on your specific needs, a combination of medications, mechanical devices or surgical procedures may be used to help you get and maintain erections if treatment has interfered with your sexual function.

While many men are able to have active and enjoyable sex lives after prostate cancer treatment, it can be difficult to father children through intercourse. As a result, some men choose to bank their sperm so that it can be used for artificial insemination in the future. Other men have their sperm harvested from their testicles so that it can be injected into an egg and potentially form an embryo.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we understand that there are many things to think about when undergoing prostate cancer treatment. Our oncologists and supportive care providers can help you determine which options are most appropriate for your unique needs, and no referral is required to make an appointment. If youd like to request a consultation with an oncologist from our Genitourinary Oncology Program, call or submit a new patient registration form online.

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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. “If a man has only six months of treatment, their level of testosterone rises again, and they’ll go back to feeling like themselves,” Calvaresi said.

Often, mood changes in men on ADT are caused by other side effects such as weight gain and hot flashes. “If we can manage those other side effects, then often that improves mood,” 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.

How Does Hormone Therapy Work Against Prostate Cancer

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Early in their development, prostate cancers need androgens to grow. Hormone therapies, which are treatments that decrease androgen levels or block androgen action, can inhibit the growth of such prostate cancers, which are therefore called castration sensitive, androgen dependent, or androgen sensitive.

Most prostate cancers eventually stop responding to hormone therapy and become castration resistant. That is, they continue to grow even when androgen levels in the body are extremely low or undetectable. In the past, these tumors were also called hormone resistant, androgen independent, or hormone refractory however, these terms are rarely used now because the tumors are not truly independent of androgens for their growth. In fact, some newer hormone therapies have become available that can be used to treat tumors that have become castration resistant.

Medically Reviewed by Beth Hendrickson, RN

Radiation treatment is often the first therapy in treating prostate cancer. It may be used throughout treatment if the cancer recurs or spreads. There are several side effects from radiation treatment for prostate cancer, including urinary problems, erectile dysfunction, and bowel problems. You may also experience fatigue, which usually improves with time, and lymphedema.

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Urinary And Sexual Function

Perhaps the 2 most feared complications of RP from a patient’s perspective are urinary complications and impotence. One difficulty in assessing these complications is that there are no precise definitions of incontinence or impotence in the literature. Furthermore, centers have obtained their outcomes data by widely divergent methods, including questionnaires, telephone interviews, or surgeon assessment. Lastly, continence and potency rates are improved when the patient population is highly selected .

Urinary incontinence can be a devastating complication following prostatectomy. Given the difficulty in measuring this clinical outcome, however, continence results in the literature vary widely. Most centers with a high-volume experience in this procedure report continence rates between 80% and 95% .

Your Role On Your Radiation Therapy Team

Youll have a team of healthcare providers working together to care for you. Youre part of that team, and your role includes:

  • Getting to your appointments on time.
  • Asking questions and talking about your concerns.
  • Telling someone on your radiation therapy team when you have side effects.
  • Telling someone on your radiation therapy team if youre in pain.
  • Caring for yourself at home by:
  • Quitting smoking, if you smoke. If you want to quit, call our Tobacco Treatment Program at .
  • Caring for your skin as instructed.
  • Drinking liquids as instructed.

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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.

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