• News
  • Choose Radiotherapy For The Treatment Of Prostate Cancer

Choose Radiotherapy For The Treatment Of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men in Britain, which is why it is important to know the best treatment to reduce its spread and increase the chances of survival. The good news is if the cancer is caught in the early stages, there is almost a 100 per cent chance of surviving for more than five years. Even if the cancer is at stage three, meaning it has broken through the prostate gland and may have spread to the seminal vesicles, there is a 95 per cent chance of living for five years after getting a diagnosis. The trick is to choose the appropriate treatment as quickly as possible, whether you opt for surgery, hormone therapy, cryotherapy, high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) or radiotherapy.

When is radiotherapy the best option?

Radiotherapy is used for a number of types of cancer, as it targets radiation waves to kill off the cancer cells. It is a good option, therefore, for anyone whose cancer has not spread past the prostate, as the radiation can be targeted more specifically and has a better chance of destroying the cells. However, it can also be used for those who have more advanced prostate cancer to slow down the spread of the disease, giving patients a longer, and better quality of, life. Patients can either receive external beam or internal radiotherapy, with the former using a machine to direct the radiation waves at the cancer from outside the body, and the former using ‘seeds’ inserted into the prostate to slowly release radiation from the inside. The type of radiotherapy you need will be determined by your doctors, depending on your risk factors, such as age and weight, and the stage and severity of your cancer. Some patients might require both forms of radiotherapy for their best chance of destroying the cancer cells and stopping it from spreading.

Higher doses for better results?

The dose of radiation you are given will be down to your oncologist, but recent research has shown a higher dose, together with long-term androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) yields better results when it comes to survival rates in patients who have high-risk prostate cancer. The study, which was presented at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, showed patients who received radiotherapy of 80 Gy had better progression-free survival, cancer-specific survival and overall survival than those who had been given 70 Gy. After a median of 114.2 months, there was a 44 per cent reduction in the risk for disease progression between the group that was given the higher dose compared with the one given the loser concentration. Despite the higher dose of radiation, there was also no decrease in the quality of life, which could mean doctors are more likely to administer more intense radiotherapy sessions for prostate cancer patients if it means they have a better chance of surviving for longer.

Side effects of radiotherapy

It is essential that patients talk about the side effects of radiotherapy with their prostate cancer oncologist before starting treatment, so they are aware of what might happen to their body. The short-term symptoms patients might experience include diarrhoea, discomfort around their bottom, tiredness, cystitis, sore skin around the treatment area, difficulties passing urine, and a loss of pubic hair. They may also experience some long-term side effects, which include problems getting and sustaining an erection, problems passing urine as the urethra has narrowed, incontinence and inflammation of the back package.

Other treatments for prostate cancer

Although radiotherapy is particularly effective at treating prostate cancer, it is not the only option available for patients. Indeed, a multidisciplinary team (MDT) consisting of a surgeon, oncologist, clinical nurse, radiologist and pathologist, will determine the best course of action depending on the case of each patient. Some people, such as those with low-risk prostate cancer, need just active surveillance at the beginning, which is when the doctor only discusses treatments when the cancer begins to grow. It is only when it is spreading that the MDT will suggest surgery to remove the prostate gland, which can cure cancer that is still contained within the prostate. This could result in urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, while it also means men will be unable to fertilise an egg during intercourse if they are considering starting a family. Often, surgery is combined with radiotherapy to kill any remaining cancerous cells and reduce the chances of the tumour returning. Hormone therapy, which blocks the effects of testosterone, is also sometimes used in conjunction with radiotherapy to increase the chance of removing all the cells or reduce the likelihood of them returning. However, it cannot cure prostate cancer by itself, and can only slow down the spread of advanced cancer or relieve symptoms if not administered in conjunction with radiotherapy. The side effects of hormone therapy include hot flushes, weight gain, sweating, swelling and tenderness of breasts, reduced sex drive and possible erectile dysfunction.

Feeling any face pain or headaches?

Call us on 0208 713 0459 to book a consultation.