Physical Emotional And Social Effects Of Cancer
Cancer and its treatment cause physical symptoms and side effects, as well as emotional, social, and financial effects. Managing all of these effects is called palliative care or supportive care. It is an important part of your care that is included along with treatments intended to slow, stop, or eliminate the cancer.
Palliative care focuses on improving how you feel during treatment by managing symptoms and supporting patients and their families with other, non-medical needs. Any person, regardless of age or type and stage of cancer, may receive this type of care. And it often works best when it is started right after a cancer diagnosis. People who receive palliative care along with treatment for the cancer often have less severe symptoms, better quality of life, and report that they are more satisfied with treatment.
Palliative treatments vary widely and often include medication, nutritional changes, relaxation techniques, emotional and spiritual support, and other therapies. You may also receive palliative treatments similar to those meant to get rid of the cancer, such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy.
Before treatment begins, talk with your doctor about the goals of each treatment in the treatment plan. You should also talk about the possible side effects of the specific treatment plan and palliative care options.
Staging Of Prostate Cancer
Doctors will use the results of your prostate examination, biopsy and scans to identify the stage of your prostate cancer .
The stage of the cancer will determine which types of treatments will be necessary.
If prostate cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the chances of survival are generally good.
Possible Side Effects Of Radiation Treatment
There are possible side effects associated with radiation therapy. Some people may not experience any side effects. Others may experience mild or bothersome side effects.
Some side effects may only last a short period of time, and others may last longer or forever. Side effects may occur at the time of treatment or could develop months after treatment.
Most side effects are manageable by your radiation team and last only a short time. Before starting treatment, your doctor will discuss possible side effects and their duration.
Because we use advanced targeting technology, the probability of side effects is lower.
Possible side effects include:
Bowel Issues Because radiation treatment is so close to the rectum, it could cause irritation. This irritation could cause soreness, blood in your stool, or rectal leakage. Most of the time these issues are temporary, but in rare cases, normal bowel function does not return. Because patients use a rectal balloon during each treatment, the likelihood of rectal issues is lower.
Urinary Issues Radiation can cause irritation to the bladder. This can cause urinary frequency, urgency and a burning sensation. If these problems occur, they generally go away after time.
Keeping your activity level up will result in less fatigue and feeling better.
Keeping your activity level up will result in less fatigue and you will feel better overall.
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What Happens After Radiotherapy
After youve finished your radiotherapy, you will have regular check-ups to monitor your progress. This is often called follow-up. The aim is to:
- check how your cancer has responded to treatment
- help you deal with any side effects of treatment
- give you a chance to raise any concerns or ask any questions.
Your follow-up appointments will usually start two or three months after treatment. You will then have appointments every three to six months. After three years, you may have
follow-up appointments less often. Each hospital will do things slightly differently, so ask your doctor or nurse for more details about how often you will have follow-up appointments.
The PSA test is a blood test that measures the amount of a protein called prostate specific antigen in your blood. You will usually have a PSA test a week or two before each follow-up appointment, so the results are available at your check-up. This can often be done at your GP surgery. PSA tests are a very effective way of checking how well your treatment has worked.
After treatment, your PSA level should start to drop. Your PSA level wont fall to zero as your healthy prostate cells will continue to produce some PSA. But it could fall to about 1 ng/ml, although every man is different and your medical team will monitor your PSA level closely.
Treatment options after radiotherapy
Looking after yourself after radiotherapy
Swollen Legs Or Scrotum
You might get swelling in the legs or the sack of skin around the testicles . The swelling is called lymphoedema . It happens when the lymph channels that drain fluid from the legs are damaged by the radiotherapy. The swelling can be uncomfortable.
You can do various things to lower your risk of getting lymphoedema. Early treatment for lymphoedema can reduce the swelling and stop it getting worse.
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How Well It Works
For men with localized prostate cancer, radiation works about as well as surgery . With either treatment, the chance of the cancer spreading is low. One study looked at men with localized prostate cancer and found that the risk of dying was very low, and about the same no matter what option men chose.footnote 1
For treating advanced prostate cancer that has grown beyond the prostate but not into lymph nodes or bones, external-beam radiation combined with hormone therapy can work better than surgery. This treatment often results in controlling cancer growth and in many years of disease-free survival.footnote 2
Radiation therapy also works well to treat pain when prostate cancer has spread to the bone.footnote 3
Radiation For Prostate Cancer
Radiation therapy may be a treatment option for certain men with prostate cancer.
Aside from surgery to remove the prostate, it is the only way to eliminate prostate cancer. Urology San Antonios Reyna Cancer Center is an entire facility dedicated to radiation therapy for cancer treatment. Although we treat many types of cancers, we specialize in radiation for prostate cancer.
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Which Approach Is Better: Active Surveillance Surgery Or Radiotherapy
The 10 year outcomes of the Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment trial from the United Kingdom has provided valuable insights into the management of localized PCa. The trial recruited 1643 men 50 to 69 years old. Of these 545 men underwent active surveillance, 553 surgery, and 545 radiotherapy. For the participants, the median follow-up was 10 years, the median age was 62 years, the median PSA was 4.6 , 77% were Gleason 6 and 21% were Gleason 7, and 76 % were T1c and the remaining T2. There were 17 prostate-cancerspecific deaths overall: 8 in the active surveillance group, 5 in the surgery group, and 4 in the radiotherapy group. The difference was not statistically significant among groups.
Metastases developed in more men in the active-monitoring group than in the surgery group or the radiotherapy group . Higher rates of disease progression were seen in the active-monitoring group than in the surgery group or the radiotherapy group . In summary, at a median of 10 years, prostate-cancerspecific mortality was low irrespective of the treatment assigned, with no significant difference among treatments. Surgery and radiotherapy were associated with lower incidences of disease progression and metastases than was active monitoring, while 44% of the patients who were assigned to active monitoring did not receive radical treatment and avoided side effects.
During Treatment For Advanced 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.
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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.
How Does Radiotherapy Work
Radiotherapy aims to destroy prostate cancer cells without causing too much damage to healthy cells. External beam radiotherapy is high-energy X-ray beams targeted at the prostate from outside the body. These X-ray beams damage the cancer cells and stop them from growing and spreading to other parts of the body . Radiotherapy permanently damages and kills the cancer cells, but healthy cells can repair themselves and recover more easily.
Radiotherapy treats the whole prostate. It aims to treat all the cancer cells, including any that have spread to the area just outside the prostate. The treatment itself is painless but it can cause side effects that may cause you problems.
You may have radiotherapy to a wider area, including the nearby lymph nodes, if there is a risk that the cancer has spread there. Lymph nodes are part of your immune system and are found throughout your body. The lymph nodes in your pelvic area are a common place for prostate cancer to spread to. If you do have radiotherapy to a wider area, you will be more likely to get side effects.
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Overview Of Radiation For Prostate Cancer
Radiation therapy has the same cure rate as surgery for prostate cancer that’s localized and locally advanced . This treatment uses high-intensity ionizing radiation, such as X-rays and gamma rays, to strategically pinpoint and destroy cancer cells.
Ionizing radiation is a kind of energy that can pass through living tissue. Low levels of ionizing radiation are used in medical tests such as X-rays and computed tomography scans. Radiation therapy for cancer differs from these common tests in intensity and frequency of use.
Radiation can be used to target cancer cells from outside the body. This technique is called external beam radiation.
Radiation can also be deposited internally in the form of seeds that are placed strategically in the prostate gland. This technique is called brachytherapy . You may be given one or both types of radiation during treatment.
Radiation therapy of either type may be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments. These treatments include surgery and hormone therapy called androgen deprivation therapy, in which levels of hormones that can stimulate the tumor are reduced.
In some instances, the Gleason score may be used as a tool to determine which treatments will be most effective for you. The Gleason score is a diagnostic tool that can help predict the aggressiveness of prostate cancer.
Your doctor may recommend radiation therapy at various stages of treatment, such as:
Meet Your Radiation Therapy Team
Your radiation therapy team is a group of healthcare providers. Their goal is to make your treatment as effective and comfortable as possible. This team includes:
Radiation Oncologist Dr. Selva is a radiation oncologist and medical director at the Reyna Cancer Center. He treats more prostate cancer patients than any radiation oncologist in the city. This incredible expertise helps you get the best results. As the radiation oncologist, he will:
- Lead the radiation therapy team
- Create your customized radiation therapy regimen, which includes the amount of radiation and how the treatment will be delivered.
- Closely monitor your progress throughout treatment.
- Direct any care needed if you experience side effects from radiation therapy.
Radiation Physicist The radiation physicist makes sure the machine that delivers radiation is working properly. The machine is a linear accelerator. It moves around you to deliver precise doses of radiation.
Radiation Nurse The radiation nurse will assist you through your treatment process and interact with the rest of your radiation team.
Radiation Therapist The radiation therapist works with you during each treatment. He or she will make sure you have the proper position for treatment. They will also operate the linear accelerator to deliver the radiation.
Dosimetrist The dosimetrist is a professional that calculates the proper radiation doses
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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.
Bowel And Bladder Problems
Radiation therapy for prostate cancer can irritate the bowel, the bladder, or both.
A person can develop:
Radiation proctitis: Symptoms include diarrhea and blood in the stool.
Radiation cystitis: Symptoms include a need to urinate more often, a burning sensation when urinating, and blood in the urine.
Bladder problems may improve after treatment, but they may not go away completely.
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How Has Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer Evolved In Recent Years
Radiation has evolved dramatically in the last 40 years, and during that time, our ability to plan and deliver treatment has changed at about the same rate as computers have progressed. Think of your computer 10 years ago and your iPad now, says Dr. Yu. You might have heard about your fathers or grandfathers perhaps difficult radiation experience in the 1970s or 80s, so you may be wary. But todays radiation therapy is so different we plan, deliver, and aid in recoveries that have better outcomes and fewer side effects than in the past.
Where You Get Treated Matters
Like all radiation therapies, brachytherapy is best administered by medical professionals who specialize in the treatment.
Fox Chase was the first to perform HDR prostate implants in the eastern United States and has one of the largest and most experienced brachytherapy programs in the region.
At Fox Chase, we have our own brachytherapy operating room in the radiation oncology department, Horwitz said. The physicians, the physicists, the nurses, the anesthesiologistsall of us do this all the time, so were very good at it.
Learn more about brachytherapy treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center.
You can also request an appointment with a Fox Chase medical professional online. Or you can call .
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Treating Advanced Prostate Cancer
If the cancer has reached an advanced stage, it’s no longer possible to cure it. But it may be possible to slow its progression, prolong your life and relieve symptoms.
Treatment options include:
- hormone treatment
If the cancer has spread to your bones, medicines called bisphosphonates may be used. Bisphosphonates help reduce bone pain and bone loss.
Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer
Radiation therapy is an effective treatment that kills prostate cancer cells by using high energy rays or particles. The radiation can be delivered in several ways, including brachytherapy and external beam radiation that projects the energy through the skin. Radiation therapy for prostate cancer is best delivered by experienced radiation oncologists who work in high volume centers of excellence.
Radiation therapy can:
- Treat both early stage cancers of the prostate gland and more advanced cancers that may have spread beyond the prostate
- Be used alone or with other treatments such as hormone deprivation
- Treat recurrent prostate cancer following surgery
- Treat men with limited spreading prostate cancer to reduce the tumors size and improve survival and quality of life
- Slow cancer growth, reduce fracture risk
- Be used as a palliative treatment to address pain from advanced cancer
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Will Radiation Therapy Make Me Tired
Everyone have their own energy level, so radiation treatment will affect each person differently. Patients often feel fatigue after several weeks of treatment. For most patients, this fatigue is mild. However, a loss of energy may require some patients to change their daily routine.
If your doctor thinks you should limit your activity, they will discuss it with you.
To minimize fatigue while you are receiving radiation treatment:
- Be sure to get enough rest.
- Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals.
- Pace your activities and plan frequent rest periods.
What Are The Different Types Of External Beam Radiation Therapy
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.
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Tiny Cracks In The Bones
Sometimes, tiny cracks can appear in the pelvic bones some years after treatment. They are called pelvic insufficiency fractures. This is more likely to happen in people who have general weakening of their bones as they get older . It is also more likely in people who are taking hormone therapies or steroids.
The pain, in this case, can be quite bad. It usually gets worse if you move around or do exercise and gets better when you sit still or rest. This type of pain normally goes away overnight. It doesn’t stop you from sleeping well. Your doctor might ask you to have x-rays, a CT scan or an MRI scan to see if there are any fractures in the bones.