Your care plan may also include treatment for symptoms and side effects, . any more benefit to men with prostate cancer than traditional radiation therapy. Early management of side effects has been shown to help patients live longer, better lives. It is very important that you communicate with your doctors about the . Surgery is a common treatment used to try to cure most prostate cancers. In the more traditional approach to doing a prostatectomy, the . There are possible risks and side effects with any type of surgery for prostate cancer.
Prostate Their Treatments Side Effects & Traditional Cancer
Some doctors believe that the entire prostate must be frozen, which impacts the nerve bundles on the sides of the gland. Impotence almost always results from cryosurgery when the entire gland is treated.
Urinary incontinence also may occur. Some doctors are performing "nerve-sparing" cryotherapy, where only the cancerous area of the prostate is treated. This is often used for men who have failed other therapies, such as radiation therapy.
Prostate cancer cells usually require testosterone — the main male hormone or androgen — to grow. Lowering androgen levels with hormone therapy can stop or slow cancer growth. Hormone therapy may control the cancer, often for a number of years, but it is not a cure. Usually, the cancer will change over time into a form that no longer needs testosterone to grow, called androgen independent, at which point other treatments are considered.
Most prostate cancers are very responsive to hormone therapy when first diagnosed and it is usually recommended as the initial treatment for advanced cancers, including prostate cancers that have metastasized or spread.
Hormone therapy does have significant side effects, such as a decrease in sexual desire and some level of erectile dysfunction. The decision to undergo this therapy should be considered carefully. In this approach, also called intermittent androgen blockade, a patient is placed on hormone therapy for a period of some months to a year or more.
After the patient's PSA level has dropped close to zero and remains at this level, the hormone therapy is stopped. When the PSA rises to a certain level following the return of testosterone production, the hormone therapy is resumed.
The length of time that a man can stay off treatment may range from several months to well over a year. The intermittent approach may reduce some of the side effects of hormone therapy, improve quality of life and allow some men to regain their sexual interest and potency during the off period.
This method is regarded as experimental. Studies are being conducted to compare its effectiveness with continuous hormone therapy and to determine if it delays androgen independence. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays and particles to kill cancer cells. The two main types are external beam radiation therapy EBRT and brachytherapy. Radiation, usually in the form of X-rays, is focused from a source outside the body onto the area affected by cancer.
After imaging studies are done to locate the cancer, treatment is designed to guide where the radiation beams will be directed. Marks are placed on the patient's skin to help position the patient for treatment.
Patients are treated five days per week over a period of seven to eight weeks, with each treatment lasting only a few minutes. Patients return home after each treatment and no hospital stay is required. A radical prostatectomy removes the entire prostate gland and some surrounding tissue.
Usually, it is performed when the cancer has not spread far outside the gland. The surgery is done under general anesthesia, generally takes two to four hours and requires a hospital stay of one to two days. Prostatectomies have been performed successfully for many years.
In the past, these procedures were regarded as the "gold standard" although other techniques have yielded similarly good results. There is still no guarantee, however, that the cancer will not return. Some cancers are found to be more extensive or aggressive than believed before surgery, indicating a higher risk for cancer recurrence. The value of the procedure is that the primary tumor is removed and more accurate staging of the cancer can be done.
Research has increased our overall understanding of prostate cancer and new treatments are being tested in patients. Clinical trials primarily involve patients who have rising PSAs after treatment or who have more advanced, metastatic cancers.
A number of new agents may eventually provide more treatment options for new and recurring cancers. But at this time, none of them are regarded as cures, or even as replacements for surgery, radiation or hormone therapy. Generally, patients being treated with these new approaches have experienced fewer side effects than patients receiving more traditional treatments.
Alternative and complementary therapies are treatments that fall outside conventional medicine in this country. Their effectiveness for treating cancer is, as yet, unproven. The field of alternative and complementary medicine is very broad and encompasses changes in diet and lifestyle, stress reduction, acupuncture, homeopathy and other approaches. Since physicians have greater control over the distribution of the proton radiation dose, higher, more effective doses can be used.
Long-term data from Loma Linda University has shown that proton therapy is an effective prostate cancer treatment.
Proton therapy shares a high cure rate with other treatments, including brachytherapy and IMRT. The difference is in the risk for severe side effects to the bowels and bladder: A large-scale study of 1, men treated for prostate cancer at the institute shows 99 percent, 94 percent and 74 percent of men with low-, intermediate-, and high-risk prostate cancer, respectively, have no signs of cancer recurrence after five years of follow up.
Less than one percent in the cohort experienced serious gastrointestinal side effects and approximately three percent experienced serious urologic side effects. The cure rate after surgery is similar to the cure rate after radiation with either IMRT or protons. However, the risk of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction is lower after proton therapy than with surgery. AJCO , epub, The figure above demonstrates the difference in radiation dose distribution between a conventional IMRT plan right and a proton plan left.
As apparent, much less of the pelvis is exposed to radiation with the proton plan. This can lead to a lower risk of secondary cancers in prostate cancer survivors.
Chemotherapy for Prostate Cancer
These side effects usually go away once treatment is finished. There is help for many of these side effects. For example, drugs can be given to. The long-term side effects of different prostate cancer treatments vary Overall, they tended to have greater declines in their sexual function, versus the same types of side effects that traditional open surgery always had. Currently, no treatments can cure advanced prostate cancer. These patients may choose not to treat their advanced prostate cancer. Side effects of docetaxel are similar to most chemotherapy drugs and include . In a more traditional type of vaccine, the patient is injected with a virus that contains PSA.