How To Manage Urinary And Bowel Dysfunction
Its common to experience urinary dysfunction, bowel dysfunction or both after receiving radiation therapy to the prostate gland. Medication is usually the first treatment recommended for these issues, although there are also injections and surgical procedures that can be used to address these side effects should they persist.
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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Can Erectile Dysfunction Be Treated
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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How To Manage Fatigue
Many men feel exceptionally tired and forgetful during prostate cancer treatment. Its important to give yourself plenty of time to rest, but it can also be helpful to stay as active as possible. A counselor or social worker can provide you with tips for dealing with mental exhaustion and depression, which can compound the effects of physical fatigue if left unaddressed.
Your Cancer Care Team
People with cancer should be cared for by a multidisciplinary team . This is a team of specialists who work together to provide the best care and treatment.
The team often consists of specialist cancer surgeons, oncologists , radiologists, pathologists, radiographers and specialist nurses.
Other members may include physiotherapists, dietitians and occupational therapists. You may also have access to clinical psychology support.
When deciding what treatment is best for you, your doctors will consider:
- the type and size of the cancer
- what grade it is
- whether the cancer has spread to other parts of your body
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If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Breast
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
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.
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.
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When Is Brachytherapy Alone The Right Choice
For a patient with disease that is confined to the prostate and not too aggressive, brachytherapy alone is a good option. With the use of sophisticated real-time computer-based planning, we can use brachytherapy to deliver radiation in an extraordinarily precise way, with minimal exposure to the surrounding normal tissues. It is also convenient for the patient as it is done in an outpatient setting and most people are able to get back to work the next day.
But brachytherapy is not right for everyone. For some patients with less-aggressive disease, a watch-and-wait approach would also be very reasonable. At MSK, our philosophy is that when the disease is caught very early meaning a low PSA level, or nonaggressive disease as reflected by a Gleason score of 6 with evidence of cancer in only a few of the biopsy samples and no evidence from the MRI of a significant amount of disease then it would be very appropriate to do active surveillance and hold off on treatment.
Urinary And Bowel Changes
Radiation therapy can cause permanent urinary and bowel changes. Many people dont notice any changes or have any symptoms. However, some people have late side effects.
Late side effects may be similar to the ones you had during treatment. Theres a very small chance you may develop other side effects. For example:
- The opening of your bladder may become narrower.
- You may lose your ability to control your bladder.
- You may have blood in your urine.
- You may have bleeding from your rectum.
- Your rectum may be injured.
These side effects are rare. They may come and go over time or be persistent and chronic. Your healthcare team will help you manage them.
Even if you dont develop any late side effects, remember that the tissues in your bladder and rectum were affected by your radiation therapy. Call your radiation oncologist if you:
- Have any new urinary, bladder, or bowel symptoms.
- Need to have a colonoscopy. Avoid having a colonoscopy for the first year after radiation therapy.
- Need any type of urological or rectal procedure.
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What To Expect After Radiation Treatment For Prostate Cancer
What to Expect After Radiation Treatment for Prostate Cancer? Many patients wonder what to expect after receiving radiation treatment for prostate cancer. It is the most widely used method of treatment regardless of the cancers stage. Radiation therapy can be followed by a radical prostatectomy, which removes the prostate gland and nearby lymph nodes.
Prostatecancer is the most diagnosed solid tumor type among men. In the early stages ofprostate cancer, indolent cases without major symptoms will receive activesurveillance and watchful waiting to observe how the disease progresses. If thecancer spreads outside of the prostate gland, other treatment options areconsidered, the first of which being radiation.
Are There Options To Prevent Or Treat These Side Effects
Yes. Your health care team can help you prevent or relieve many side effects. Preventing and treating side effects is an important part of your overall cancer treatment. This is called palliative care or supportive care. Before treatment begins, ask what side effects are likely from the specific type of treatment you are receiving and when they may happen. And during and after treatment, let your health care team know how you are feeling on a regular basis.
Expert Review And References
- American Cancer Society. Treating Prostate Cancer. 2019: .
- American Society of Clinical Oncology. Prostate Cancer. 2020: .
- Tracy, CR. Prostate Cancer. eMedicine/Medscape 2020: .
- PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Prostate Cancer Treatment Patient Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute 2020: .
- PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Prostate Cancer Treatment Health Professional Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute 2020: .
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Prostate Cancer . 2020: .
- Zelefsky MJ, Morris MJ, Eastham JA. Cancer of the prostate. DeVita VT Jr., Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds.. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer 2019: 70: 1087-1136.
- Parker C, Castro E, Fizazi K et al . Prostate cancer: ESMO clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis, treatmentand follow-up. Annals of Oncology. 2020: 31: 1119-1134. .
Proton Therapy Treats Prostate Cancer With A Low Risk Of Side Effects
The five-year results of over 1,300 men treated at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute for prostate cancer were recently published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.1 As reported by UF researchers, the results revealed that the majority of these men are living cancer-free with minimal to no side effects. The five-year survival rates for low, intermediate, and high-risk prostate cancer are 99%, 94%, and 74% respectively with less than 1% having experienced any bowel issues and less than 3% having experienced any urinary issues.
Because of the comparatively low occurrence of side effects such as incontinence, impotence, and fatigue, prostate cancer patients receiving proton therapy are able to continue working, playing, and living relatively normal lives both during and after treatment. Thats why more and more patients with prostate cancer are choosing proton therapy.
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Cancer Of The Bladder Or Lower Bowel
A small number of men develop bladder cancer or cancer of the lower bowel after radiotherapy for prostate cancer.
Your doctor will discuss this with you and you will have regular checks after your treatment ends. The checks aim to pick up cancer early when the chance of successful treatment is high.
Types Of Prostate Surgery
There are several ways of removing the prostate keyhole surgery either by hand or robot-assisted, and open surgery.
Although robot-assisted keyhole surgery is the newest technique, the most recent research suggests all three techniques are as good as each other for treating prostate cancer, as long as the surgeon is experienced. They also have similar rates of side effects.
The advantages of keyhole surgery, both by hand and robot-assisted, are that you are likely to lose less blood, have less pain, spend less time in hospital, and heal more quickly than with open surgery.
Keyhole surgery .
- Robot-assisted keyhole surgery Your surgeon makes five or six small cuts in your lower abdomen and a slightly bigger cut near your belly button, and removes the prostate using special surgical tools. These include a thin, lighted tube with a small camera on the tip. The image will appear on a screen so the surgeon can see what theyre doing. Your surgeon controls the tools from a console in the operating room via four or five robotic arms. Although its called robot-assisted, its still a surgeon who does the operation. You may hear the equipment called the da Vinci® Robot.
- Keyhole surgery by hand As with robot-assisted keyhole surgery, the surgeon will make four or five small cuts in your abdomen. But they will hold the surgical tools in their hands, rather than using robotic arms.
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Help For Bowel Dysfunction
To help with symptoms of bowel dysfunction, your healthcare team may recommend:
Avoiding foods that can irritate your bowels
Taking antidiarrheal medications
Increasing fiber intake from fruits and vegetables
If you have persistent rectal bleeding, your team may recommend laser therapy. Laser therapy will scar the blood vessels in your rectum so they stop bleeding.
If Treatment Does Not Work
Recovery from cancer is not always possible. If the cancer cannot be cured or controlled, the disease may be called advanced or terminal.
This diagnosis is stressful, and for many people, advanced cancer may be difficult to discuss. However, it is important to have open and honest conversations with your health care team to express your feelings, preferences, and concerns. The health care team has special skills, experience, and knowledge to support patients and their families and is there to help. Making sure a person is physically comfortable, free from pain, and emotionally supported is extremely important.
People who have advanced cancer and who are expected to live less than 6 months may want to consider hospice care. Hospice care is designed to provide the best possible quality of life for people who are near the end of life. You and your family are encouraged to talk with the health care team about hospice care options, which include hospice care at home, a special hospice center, or other health care locations. Nursing care and special equipment, including a hospital bed, can make staying at home a workable option for many families. Learn more about advanced cancer care planning.
After the death of a loved one, many people need support to help them cope with the loss. Learn more about grief and loss.
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Short Term Side Effects
Patients who receive any type of radiation therapy to treat their prostate cancer can have side effects. Short term side effects are ones that start during or shortly after your radiation treatment. Below is a list of possible short term side effects. Treatments can affect each patient differently, and you may not have these particular side effects. Talk with your care team about what you can expect from your treatment
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.
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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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.
Treatment Areas And Possible Side Effects
|Part of the Body Being Treated||Possible Side Effects|
Healthy cells that are damaged during radiation treatment usually recover within a few months after treatment is over. But sometimes people may have side effects that do not improve. Other side effects may show up months or years after radiation therapy is over. These are called late effects. Whether you might have late effects, and what they might be, depends on the part of your body that was treated, other cancer treatments youve had, genetics, and other factors, such as smoking.Ask your doctor or nurse which late effects you should watch for. See the section on Late Effects to learn more.
- Posted:May 1, 2018
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