Radiation And Prostate Cancer – An Effective Treatment

July 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer

Generally, if you say radiation treatment for prostate cancer is applicable for all stages of the disease, you probably wouldn’t be wrong. However there are various forms of radiation therapy, especially as applied to interventions for prostate cancer; and not all of them may be applicable in all stages of the malignancy. Radiation kills the cancer cells or stops them from growing by exposing them to high-energy emissions. External radiation therapy beams the rays from a linear accelerators onto the body, sometimes with the aid of IMRT (intensity modulating radiation therapy); and internal radiation treatments apply radioactive material sealed in “seeds” (by insertion into the prostate) to kill localized prostate tumor cells.

Known as brachytherapy, this later form of radiation treatment for prostate cancer has rapidly grown to be a procedure that many men choose because it is relatively simple, requires minimal hospitalization (that hardly ever lasts more than two days), and it leaves no surgical wound. In this technique surgeon puts radioactive rice-size pellets directly into the prostate, where they emit the desired radiation from within the gland itself. If it so happens that the tumor in question extends past the prostate, then the procedure may have to be combined with external-beam radiation to attack the outer reaches of the mass.

It has been decades since brachytherapy first became available, and it has always seemed promising. However there wasn’t a lot of confidence about its long-term results, in particular because the pellets had to be placed without the aid of imaging technology as is available today. As a result of this, parts of the prostate gland would end up with few or no radioactive seeds, and the patient may end up suffering from some complications. Then comes the approach of performing the procedure with the help of a template placed between the scrotum and rectum, which brings it at par with external-beam radiation or surgery for men who have low-stage tumors diagnosed as relatively unaggressive.

There are times when reducing the size of the tumor before the insertion of the seeds becomes necessary due to the stage of the disease. When this is the case, prior to hormone treatments, chemotherapy may be applied to ease the procedure and potentially increase the chance of success. In addition it may also reduce side effects. In these days when increasing numbers of patients are seeking minimally invasive procedures to ease their suffering, brachytherapy is certainly attractive.

Today the latest form of brachytherapy, which makes use of transperineal interstitial permanent radioactive seeds, offers patients an excellent quality of life with a convenient outpatient treatment and up to 15 years of biochemical relapse-free survival rate. This does depend on risk stratification, but it remains a fact that brachytherapy as treatment for prostate cancer making use of either radioactive iodine-125 or palladium-103 alone or in combination with supplemental external-beam treatment offers patients a successful treatment outcome with acceptable toxicity.

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