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What To Expect After Radiation Treatment For Prostate Cancer

Note The Time Of Your Procedure

What to Expect after Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer

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 .

Radiation Therapy In Advanced Disease:

Some forms of radiation therapy, like external radiation therapy and radiopharmaceuticals, can help with advanced prostate cancer. One type of external radiation therapy is used along with hormone therapy to treat cancer that has spread outside the prostate to nearby tissue. In addition, radiopharmaceuticals are used to manage pain and symptoms of bone metastases. Scroll down to learn more about radiopharmaceuticals.

When Is Brachytherapy Alone The Right Choice

For some patients with disease that is confined to the prostate and not too aggressive , brachytherapy alone is a good option. It is also convenient for the patient as it is done in an outpatient setting and most people can get back to work within a few days.

But brachytherapy is not right for everyone. For some patients with less-aggressive disease, a watch-and-wait approach would be preferred. At MSK, our philosophy is that when the disease is caught very early, it is very appropriate to do active surveillance and hold off on treatment.

This philosophy applies to patients with 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. There are also very select patients with Gleason 7 disease who may be candidates for active surveillance.

Recommended Reading: What Should My Prostate Feel Like

How Can I Help Myself

Urinary problems can affect your self-esteem and independence, and affect your work, social and sex life.

Making some changes to your lifestyle may help, and there are some practical steps that can make things easier.

  • Try to drink plenty of fluids, but cut down on fizzy drinks, alcohol, tea and coffee as these may irritate the bladder
  • Do regular pelvic floor muscle exercises to help strengthen the muscles that control when you urinate.
  • Try to stay a healthy weight. Being overweight can put pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor muscles.
  • If you smoke, try to stop. Smoking can cause coughing which puts pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. NHS Choices has more information about stopping smoking
  • Plan ahead when you go out. For example, find out where there are public toilets before leaving home.
  • Pack a bag with extra pads, underwear and wet wipes. Some men also find it useful to carry a screw-top container in case they cant find a toilet.
  • Get our Urgent toilet card to help make it easier to ask for urgent access to a toilet.
  • Disability Rights UK runs a National Key Scheme for anyone who needs access to locked public toilets across the UK because of a disability or health condition.
  • If you often need to use the toilet at night, leave a light on in case youre in a hurry, or keep a container near your bed.

Dealing With Feelings Of Sadness

A study has found that prostate cancer surgery may be better than ...

If you have continued feelings of sadness, have trouble getting up in the morning or have lost motivation to do things that previously gave you pleasure, you may be experiencing depression. This is quite common among people who have had cancer.

Talk to your GP, as counselling or medication even for a short time may help. Some people can get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist. Ask your doctor if you are eligible. Cancer Council may also run a counselling program in your area.

For information about coping with depression and anxiety, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36. For 24-hour crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Read Also: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia With Nocturia

How Effective Is Modern Radiation Treatment Of Prostate Cancer

Thanks to improvements in technology and daily imaging, radiation therapy can deliver a higher radiation dose directly to the tumor while sparing surrounding healthy tissue. Doctors use different imaging techniques to see the prostate and surrounding tissues in three dimensions. This allows the doctor to tailor the radiation more precisely to the individual patient’s unique needs. Treatment planning allows them to estimate and minimize radiation exposure to the rectum, small bowel, bladder, and hips. This helps reduce the risk of side effects and complications. The goal is to safely provide a high dose of radiation, which improves the chance of cure. For similar stage and prostate cancer types, radiation therapy is as effective as surgery.

What Is Proton Beam Radiation Therapy

This type of therapy treats tumors with protons instead of X-ray radiation. It may be able to deliver more radiation specifically to a prostate cancer tumor with less damage to normal tissue.

Proton beam therapy might be a safe treatment option when a doctor decides that using X-rays could be risky for a patient. But so far, research hasnât shown that it works better than traditional radiation therapy against solid cancers in adults.

The side effects of proton beam therapy are similar to the ones that other types of radiation treatment bring on. But since proton therapy may be less damaging to normal tissue, the side effects might be milder.

After treatment, you may gradually have ones like:

  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Sore, reddened skin around the area where you got treated
  • Hair loss around the treatment spot

One of the disadvantages of proton therapy is that it might not be covered by all insurance companies. Youâd need to check with your health plan to find out.

Proton therapy also isnât widely available. You can get it only at certain centers in the U.S.

Recommended Reading: What Is Proton Therapy For Prostate Cancer

What Symptoms Should I Look Out For

If your cancer does come back, the first sign is likely to be a rise in your PSA level, rather than any symptoms. And problems will often be side effects of treatment rather than a sign that your cancer has come back.

However, its important to let your doctor or nurse know if you do get any new symptoms or side effects, or are worried that your cancer might have come back. If your cancer has come back and has spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, it can cause symptoms, such as extreme tiredness ” rel=”nofollow”> fatigue), bone pain and problems urinating.

Your doctor or nurse can help find out what might be causing your symptoms and help you manage any side effects. They can also look at your PSA level and do other tests to see whether or not your cancer might have come back.

What other tests might I have?

If your doctor or nurse is concerned about your PSA level or if you have new symptoms that suggest your cancer might have come back, they may recommend that you have some other tests, such as a prostate biopsy, MRI scan, CT scan, bone scan or PET scan.

Your doctor or nurse will explain these tests to you if you need them, or you can get in touch with our Specialist Nurses for more information.

Why It Is Done

Radiation therapy for prostate cancer: What to expect

Radiation therapy is used for:

    • Cancer that has not spread in generally healthy men.
    • Cancer that has spread to the bones, and is causing pain or other symptoms.
    • Cancer that has come back in the prostate after surgery.
    • Cancer cells that may remain after surgery, especially if all the cancer cannot be removed.

Read Also: Newest Treatment For Prostate Cancer

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 Happens Before Radiation Therapy Treatment

Each treatment plan is created to meet a patient’s individual needs, but there are some general steps. You can expect these steps before beginning treatment:

Meeting with your radiation oncologist. The doctor will review your medical records, perform a physical exam, and recommend tests. You will also learn about the potential risks and benefits of radiation therapy. This is a great time to ask any questions or share concerns you may have.

Giving permission for radiation therapy. If you choose to receive radiation therapy, your health care team will ask you to sign an “informed consent” form. Signing the document means:

  • Your team gave you information about your treatment options.

  • You choose to have radiation therapy.

  • You give permission for the health care professionals to deliver the treatment.

  • You understand the treatment is not guaranteed to give the intended results.

Simulating and planning treatment. Your first radiation therapy session is a simulation. This means it is a practice run without giving radiation therapy. Your team will use imaging scans to identify the tumor location. These may include:

  • An x-ray

Depending on the area being treated, you may receive a small mark on your skin. This will help your team aim the radiation beam at the tumor.

You may also be fitted for an immobilization device. This could include using:

  • Tape

  • Plaster casts

These items help you stay in the same position throughout treatment.

Recommended Reading: Diagnostic Procedures For Prostate Cancer

What Side Effects Will I Have

During your treatment, radiation must pass through your skin. You may notice some skin changes in the area exposed to radiation. Your skin may become red, swollen, warm, and sensitive, as if you have a sunburn. It may peel or become moist and tender. Depending on the dose of radiation you receive, you may notice a loss of hair or decreased perspiration within the treated area.

These skin reactions are common and temporary. They will subside gradually within four to six weeks of completing treatment. If skin changes appear outside the treated area, inform your doctor or primary nurse.

Long-term side effects, which can last up to a year or longer after treatment, may include a slight darkening of the skin, enlarged pores, increased or decreased sensitivity of the skin, and a thickening of tissue or skin.

Another possible side effect is erectile dysfunction and urinary symptoms such as frequency, bleeding, or, rarely, incontinence. Keep these side effects in mind when considering your treatment options. If you have any concerns, donât hesitate to talk to your doctor about them.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Brachytherapy

Prostate Cancer and the Role of PostOp Radiation
  • Frequent urination or urinary retention or burning with urination
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Urethral stricture or narrowing of the urethra
  • Diarrhea or blood in the stool
  • Secondary cancers

For the short time that the seeds are giving off larger amounts of radiation, you should avoid close proximity to children or pregnant women. Make sure to talk with your radiation oncologist or oncology nurse for instruction about radiation safety and exposure for family members or pets.

If you are traveling through an airport following brachytherapy treatment, there is a chance that radiation detectors will be set off. Talk to your radiation oncologist and ask for a note to indicate youve just had radiation treatment.

Read Also: Metastatic Prostate Cancer Survival Rate

Who Is On My Radiation Therapy Team

A highly trained medical team will work together to provide you with the best possible care. This team may include the following health care professionals:

Radiation oncologist. This type of doctor specializes in giving radiation therapy to treat cancer. A radiation oncologist oversees radiation therapy treatments. They work closely with other team members to develop the treatment plan.

Radiation oncology nurse. This nurse specializes in caring for people receiving radiation therapy. A radiation oncology nurse plays many roles, including:

  • Answering questions about treatments

  • Monitoring your health during treatment

  • Helping you manage side effects of treatment

Medical radiation physicist. This professional helps design treatment plans. They are experts at using radiation equipment.

Dosimetrist. The dosimetrist helps your radiation oncologist calculate the right dose of radiation.

Radiation therapist or radiation therapy technologist. This professional operates the treatment machines and gives people their scheduled treatments.

Other health care professionals. Additional team members may help care for physical, emotional, and social needs during radiation therapy. These professionals include:

  • Social workers

Learn more about the oncology team.

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.

Recommended Reading: Can You Be Asleep During A Prostate Biopsy

What Happens After Treatment Finishes

After radiation therapy has finished, your treatment team will tell you how to look after the treatment area and recommend ways to manage side effects. They will also advise who to call if you have any concerns.

Life after cancer treatment can present its own challenges. You may have mixed feelings when treatment ends, and worry that every ache and pain means the cancer is coming back.

Some people say that they feel pressure to return to normal life. It is important to allow yourself time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and establish a new daily routine at your own pace. Your family and friends may also need time to adjust.

Cancer Council 13 11 20 can help you connect with other people who have had cancer, and provide you with information about the emotional and practical aspects of living well after cancer.

For more on this, see Living well after cancer.

What Are The Types Of Radiation Therapy Used For Prostate Cancer

How Radiation Affects The Prostate | Mark Scholz, MD

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.

Also Check: Rotterdam Prostate Cancer Risk Calculator

What Happens During Radiation Therapy Treatment

What happens during your radiation therapy treatment depends on the kind of radiation therapy you receive.

External-beam radiation therapy

External-beam radiation therapy delivers radiation from a machine outside the body. It is the most common radiation therapy treatment for cancer.

Each session is quick, lasting about 15 minutes. Radiation does not hurt, sting, or burn when it enters the body. You will hear clicking or buzzing throughout the treatment and there may be a smell from the machine. Typically, people have treatment sessions 5 times per week, Monday through Friday. This schedule usually continues for 3 to 9 weeks, depending on your personal treatment plan.

This type of radiation therapy targets only the tumor. But it will affect some healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. While most people feel no pain when each treatment is being delivered, effects of treatment slowly build up over time and may include discomfort, skin changes, or other side effects, depending on where in the body treatment is being delivered. The 2-day break in treatment each week allows your body some time to repair this damage. Some of the effects may not go away until the treatment period is completed. Let the health care professionals if you are experiencing side effects. Read more about the side effects of radiation therapy.

Internal radiation therapy

  • The permanent implant loses it radioactivity

  • The temporary implant is removed

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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.

Also Check: How Long Is Prostate Surgery

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