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You have options: Explore the pros and cons of prostate cancer radiation

You have options: Explore the pros and cons of prostate cancer radiation

Excluding skin cancers, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Louisiana men, and that kind of statistic is not something to celebrate. The upside is that the five-year survival rate is close to 100% with careful monitoring or treatment for prostate cancer. Now that’s good news! According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 13% of men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis during their life. If you’re one of them, many effective treatment options, such as prostate cancer radiation, are available to you at Touro.

Goals of treatment for prostate cancer

Treatment for prostate cancer strives to stop the growth and spread of cancerous cells in the prostate gland, which is the size and shape of a walnut and found beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. Most prostate cancer is found in its early stages when it’s most treatable. With their doctor’s advice, some men will choose watchful waiting to avoid the risks and side effects of treatment, but this option isn’t for everyone. Among other factors, your age and overall health will affect how you and your doctor will weigh your options. Radiation treatment may be used instead of surgery, after surgery if the cancer comes back, or to prevent or relieve symptoms of a prostate gland with cancer.

The primary treatment for prostate cancer

Radiation therapy for prostate cancer is the first choice when your prostate cancer is slow growing and is only found in the prostate gland. Your radiation therapy team at Touro will select the type of radiation treatment that matches your individual needs. Radiation treatment for prostate cancer may include:

  • Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) limits radiation to surrounding tissue by targeting its intense beams to just cancer cells identified through imaging.
  • Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) also uses images to guide your doctor to the precise area of the prostate. Still, the high dose reduces the number of treatments.
    • Pros: IGRT or SBRT has the capability to cure your cancer, and you can continue regular activities during prostate cancer radiation treatment.
    • Cons: IGRT requires treatment five days a week for up to eight weeks. IGRT and SBRT can cause side effects, such as bladder pain, erectile dysfunction, having to go urgently and urinary incontinence.
  • High-Dose Rate Brachytherapy, also called seed therapy, implants small radioactive seeds into your prostate.
    • Pros: Brachytherapy has the potential to cure your cancer with only one treatment.
    • Cons: The treatment may require a hospital stay and must be completed under anesthesia. Side effects can include burning when you urinate, erectile dysfunction, difficulty emptying your bladder, feeling an urgency to urinate and having to go frequently.
  • Radiopharmaceutical treatment involves having medication injected into a vein to reach cancer cells that have spread through the body. The type of radiation used travels a short distance, which helps keep side effects to a minimum.

Radiation as part of a successful treatment plan

The success rate of radiation therapy for prostate cancer treatment is similar to those with cancerous cells in the prostate surgically removed. While the outcome of prostate cancer treatment depends on many factors, the overall prognosis is among the best of all cancers. The relative five-year survival rate—how many men with your type of cancer are still cancer free five years after diagnosis—for prostate cancer that has not yet spread is 99%, highlighting the importance of getting any recommended cancer screenings.

We’re on a mission to change the statistics

If you or a loved one needs care for prostate cancer, our team has you covered, without having to travel far from home. Schedule an appointment today with our team of caring experts.