Who Can I Contact If I Have Personal Concerns About My Treatment
Many hospitals and clinics have a staff social worker who can help you during your treatment. Check with your doctor to see if this is available to you.
The social worker can discuss any emotional issues or other concerns about your treatment or your personal situation and provide information about resources. The social worker can also discuss housing or transportation needs if necessary.
People dealing with certain medical issues find it helpful to share experiences with others in the same situation. Your doctor can provide a list of support groups if you are interested. Your social worker can provide additional information, and you can look online for support group resources.
Who Should Consider External Beam Radiation Therapy
In most cases, external beam radiation therapy is used for men with localized prostate cancer . The intent of EBRT in this case is to kill the tumor while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible. Sometimes it is used in more advanced cases. For example, it can be used along with hormone therapy, or used to relieve pain from bone metastases.
Can A Prostate Grow Back After Radiation
Prostate cancer can come back, even after you’ve had treatment and your doctor declared you cancer-free. Prostate cancer that returns after treatment is called recurrent prostate cancer. Prostate cancer returns for a couple of reasons: Some cancer cells were left behind after surgery or radiation therapy.
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Image Guided Radiation Therapy
In this type of radiation therapy, CT scans are taken both during the planning process and just before treatment begins. Comparing the two images allows doctors to adjust treatment as needed, since tumors can move between treatments. This allows precision targeting of the cancer while avoiding nearby healthy tissue.
In some cases, doctors will implant a tiny marker in or near the tumor to pinpoint it for IGRT to account for organ/tumor motion even if the body is immobilized.
Calypso is another form of IGRT where the prostate can be tracked during the treatment.
What To Expect After Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer
Patients who receive radiation therapy for prostate cancer may experience a wide range of short-term and long-term side effects. And side effects may vary widely from patient to patient depending on a variety of factors, including the extent of the disease and the patients overall health. For instance, some patients may need a urinary catheter to help empty the bladder. Other patients may experience sexual side effects.
At CTCA, our trained supportive care providers work closely with you and your doctors to determine how best to address radiation therapy side effects. Services may include:
- Pelvic floor therapy
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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.
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
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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.
Possible Risks And Side Effects Of Brachytherapy
Radiation precautions: If you get permanent brachytherapy, the seeds will give off small amounts of radiation for several weeks or months. Even though the radiation doesnt travel far, your doctor may advise you to stay away from pregnant women and small children during this time. If you plan on traveling, you might want to get a doctors note regarding your treatment, as low levels of radiation can sometimes be picked up by detection systems at airports.
There’s also a small risk that some of the seeds might move . You may be asked to strain your urine for the first week or so to catch any seeds that might come out. You may be asked to take other precautions as well, such as wearing a condom during sex. Be sure to follow any instructions your doctor gives you. There have also been reports of the seeds moving through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, such as the lungs. As far as doctors can tell, this is uncommon and doesnt seem to cause any ill effects.
These precautions arent needed after HDR brachytherapy, because the radiation doesnt stay in the body after treatment.
Bowel problems: Brachytherapy can sometimes irritate the rectum and cause a condition called radiation proctitis. Bowel problems such as rectal pain, burning, and/or diarrhea can occur, but serious long-term problems are uncommon.
Can I Lower The Risk Of Prostate Cancer Progressing Or Coming Back
If you have prostate cancer, you probably want to know if there are things you can do that might lower your risk of the cancer growing or coming back, such as exercising, eating a certain type of diet, or taking nutritional supplements. While there are some things you can do that might be helpful, more research is needed to know for sure.
Surgically Removing The Prostate Gland
A radical prostatectomy is the surgical removal of your prostate gland. This treatment is an option for curing prostate cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate or has not spread very far.
Like any operation, this surgery carries some risks.
A recent trial showed possible long-term side effects of radical prostatectomy may include an inability to get an erection and urinary incontinence.
Before having any treatment, 67% of men said they could get erections firm enough for intercourse.
When the men who had a radical prostatectomy were asked again after 6 months, this had decreased to 12%. When asked again after 6 years, it had slightly improved to 17%.
For urinary incontinence, 1% of men said they used absorbent pads before having any treatment.
When the men who had a radical prostatectomy were asked again after 6 months, this had increased to 46%. After 6 years, this had improved to 17%.
Out of the men who were actively monitored instead, 4% were using absorbent pads at 6 months and 8% after 6 years.
In extremely rare cases, problems arising after surgery can be fatal.
Itâs possible that prostate cancer can come back again after treatment. Your doctor should be able to explain the risk of your cancer coming back after treatment, based on things like your PSA level and the stage of your cancer.
After a radical prostatectomy, youâll no longer ejaculate during sex. This means you will not be able to have a child through sexual intercourse.
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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.
Why Are There Marks On My Skin
Your radiation therapist will make small marks resembling freckles on your skin along the treatment area. These marks provide targets for the treatment and are a semi-permanent outline of your treatment area.
Donât try to wash these marks off or retouch them if they fade. The therapist will re-mark the treatment area when necessary.
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Hormone Therapy Side Effects
Testosterone is the primary male hormone, and plays an important role in establishing and maintaining typical male characteristics, such as body hair growth, muscle mass, sexual desire, and erectile function, and contributes to a host of other normal physiologic processes in the body. The primary systemic …
Urinary And Bladder Changes
Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause urinary and bladder problems by irritating the healthy cells of the bladder wall and urinary tract. These changes may start 35 weeks after radiation therapy begins. Most problems go away 28 weeks after treatment is over. You may experience:
- Burning or pain when you begin to urinate or after you urinate
- Trouble starting to urinate
- Bladder spasms, which are like painful muscle cramps
Ways to manage include:
- Drink lots of fluids. Aim for 68 cups of fluids each day, or enough that your urine is clear to light yellow in color.
- Avoid coffee, black tea, alcohol, spices and all tobacco products.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse if you think you have urinary or bladder problems. You may need to provide a urine sample to check for infection.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse if you have incontinence. He/she may refer you to a physical therapist to assess your problem. The therapist may recommend exercises to help you improve your bladder control.
- Your doctor may prescribe medications to help you urinate, reduce burning or pain, and ease bladder spasms.
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Radiopharmaceuticals That Target Psma
Prostate-specific membrane antigen is a protein that is often found in large amounts on prostate cancer cells.
Lutetium Lu 177 vipivotide tetraxetan is a radiopharmaceutical that attaches to PSMA, bringing radiation directly to the prostate cancer cells.
This drug can be used to treat prostate cancer that has spread and that has already been treated with hormone therapy and chemotherapy. The cancer cells must also have the PSMA protein. Your doctor will order a PSMA PET scan before you get this drug to make sure the cancer cells have PSMA.
This drug is given as an injection or infusion into a vein , typically once every 6 weeks for up to 6 doses.
Possible side effects
Some of the more common side effects of this drug include:
- Feeling tired
This drug can lower blood cell counts:
- A low red blood cell count can cause tiredness, weakness, pale skin, or shortness of breath.
- A low blood platelet count can lead to bleeding or bruising more easily than normal, or bleeding that is hard to stop.
- A low white blood cell count can lead to an increased risk of infections, which might show as a fever, chills, sore throat, or mouth sores.
This drug might damage the kidneys. Your doctor or nurse will likely advise you to drink plenty of fluids and to urinate often before and after getting this drug, to help protect the kidneys. Tell your doctor or nurse if you start to pass less urine than is normal for you.
Swelling Bruising Or Tenderness Of The Scrotum
Symptoms generally resolve on their own within three to five days. Oral anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen are usually sufficient for pain relief, if necessary. You should avoid hot tubs and Jacuzzis for at least two to three days after the procedure. Postpone bike riding until the tenderness is gone.
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What Are The Types Of Radiation Therapy Used For Prostate Cancer
Radiationtherapy for prostate cancer can be divided into two main categories.
Externalbeam radiation :Using a machine outside the body, beams of radiation are focused on theprostate gland. This can help relieve symptoms such as pain while limiting thedamage to the tissues surrounding the prostate.
The 4methods of external beam radiation are:
- Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy
- Proton beam radiation therapy
Brachytherapy:Small radioactive pellets are inserted into the prostate, each one about thesize of a grain of rice. About 100 pellets are used to limit the damage tosurrounding tissues and organs. Brachytherapy is most often used forearly-stage cases and is sometimes combined with EBRT. The pellets can eitherbe inserted for a couple of days for high dosages or a few months for lowdosage depending on the patients overall status.
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.
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Note The Time Of Your Procedure
A staff member from the Admitting Office will call you after 2:00 pm the day before your procedure. If your procedure is scheduled for a Monday, theyll call you on the Friday before.
The staff member will tell you what time to arrive at the hospital for your procedure. Theyll also remind you where to go. If you dont get a call by 7:00 pm, call .
Reducing Side Effects During Radiotherapy For Prostate Cancer
Radiation is a very effective treatment for prostate cancer, but in a small percentage of patients it also can cause toxicities to nearby organs, particularly the rectum. Side effects are usually minor and can include hemorrhoidal type bleeding and rectal incontinence. But for a very small subset of patients, the side effects can be more serious.
Patients who take blood thinners or who have Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis, for example, are at greater risk for complications from radiation therapy for prostate cancer than are other patients. For these patients, sparing the rectum is a significant concern.
Serious complications are rare, but as Dr. Greg Cooley, Department of Human Oncology clinical associate professor and radiation oncologist at UW Health East, says, If they happen to one patient, thats one too many.
For patients who are susceptible to complications, Cooley uses a relatively new technique to move the rectum away from the treatment area to reduce the likelihood that the rectum will be exposed to radiation during treatment. He injects a substance called SpaceOAR into the space between the patients prostate and rectum, which pushes these two organs apart by about 1 cm and solidifies into a soft hydrogel that remains stable for three months.
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Having External Beam Radiotherapy
You have external beam radiotherapy as an outpatient in the radiotherapy department. Radiotherapy is given using a machine that is like a big x-ray machine. This is called a linear accelerator .
You usually have it as a series of short, daily treatments. The treatments are given from Monday to Friday, with a rest at the weekend. Your course of treatment may last for 4 to 8 weeks. Radiotherapy is not painful, but you will need to lie still while you have it.
You may have radiotherapy over 4 weeks instead of over 7 weeks. The total dose of radiation is the same for both. But when it is given over 4 weeks, the dose for each treatment session is higher. Doctors call this hypofractionation. Both are effective treatments. Your cancer doctor will recommend the best timing and way for you to have your radiotherapy.
The radiotherapy does not make you radioactive. It is safe for you to be with other people during external radiotherapy, including children.
How Does It Work
There are multiple types of surgery that can be used.
Radical prostatectomy : During this procedure, the prostate is removed from the space between the bladder and urethra. An additional lymph node dissection can be done during the procedure if the surgeon feels it is needed for accurate staging .
An open prostatectomy is done through an incision in either the lower abdomen or in the perineum, which is the area between the rectum and the penis. Most laparoscopic removal is now done with robotic assistance.
Cryoablation: This is a surgical procedure done as primary treatment for prostate cancer or when cancer may return after radiation . Needles are placed into the prostate to deliver cold fluid that becomes ice balls, which destroy the tissues they contact.
Focal therapy:This is done with probes that deliver cold or hot energy into areas targeted within the prostate. With focal therapy, only select areas of the prostate are ablated to minimize side effects.
Side effects from prostate surgery can include:
- Urinary incontinence
- Shortening of the penis
- Injury to the rectum and surrounding structures
- Infertility due to the removal of the vas deferens during surgery
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