Prostate Cancer Care
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, with about one in nine men being diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. There are several risk factors associated with prostate cancer, including family history, race, diet, etc., but the most common factor is age. Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. About six in ten cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40. The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
While there are a lot of risk factors for prostate cancer, there are also good survival statistics associated with the disease. Survival rates for prostate cancer are very high. According to statistics from the National Institute of Health, almost 3 million men are estimated to be living with prostate cancer in the United States.
Prostate Cancer Treatment Options
3D-Conformal Radiation Therapy and Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
3D-Conformal Radiation Therapy and Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) are two forms of External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT). During 3D-Conformal treatments, a device called a “multi-leaf collimator” will shape the individual radiation beams to “conform” to the shape of your tumor according to the data and instructions it receives from the system computer. IMRT uses thousands of radiation “beamlets” from many different angles to deliver a single dose of radiation. The intensity of the “beamlets” can change during the treatment session to modulate the dose, so that the tumor receives a very precise high dose of radiation, while minimizing damage to surrounding, normal tissue.
Before each session, a radiation therapist will carefully position you on the treatment table using a body immobilizer for precise body placement. Image guidance will be used to confirm the location of the tumor before the therapy begins. During your treatment sessions, the radiation delivery system will revolve around you, delivering the radiation according to the plan set by your radiation oncologist. Each treatment session lasts from 10 to 30 minutes. Sessions last five to eight weeks. The sessions are pain-free and require no sedation so you can return to your normal activities right away.
The state-of-the-art Calypso® system offers sophisticated real time prostate tumor tracking. Subtle movements during treatment can cause the fixed radiation beam aimed at the tumor to touch surrounding healthy tissue. This can lead to incontinence, impotence and other common side effects associated with prostate radiation treatment. Used in combination with external beam radiation therapy, the Calypso system works just like the GPS in a car. It alerts your radiation therapist when the tumor is no longer in the treatment target zone and stops the radiation delivery. This avoids irradiating other nearby organs and minimizes unwanted side effects. Since the prostate can be targeted more accurately, the radiation margin can be diminished. This allows your oncologist to prescribe a higher dose of radiation to the prostate and minimize radiation to normal tissue.
Internal Radiation Therapy (Brachytherapy)
Internal Radiation Therapy (IRT), also known as Brachytherapy, targets tumors with radiation delivered through tiny catheters (tubes) that are guided into the prostate using transrectal ultrasound. Low-Dose Rate (LDR) Brachytherapy radioactive seeds, the size of a rice grain, are implanted at the tumor site through the catheters. The seeds remain near the tumor. Over time, the seeds become non-radioactive. With High-Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy, a computer-controlled machine sends the radioactive isotopes through tiny sealed pellets that are inserted down each catheter to deliver the radiation at multiple depths and varying times. The overall treatment time at the tumor site is 10 to 20 minutes. Your treatment plan may require one session or multiple sessions. The catheters are then removed so that no radioactive material remains in the body. You are free to resume normal activity with either treatment.
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT), another form of External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT), effectively treats cancers in high-risk locations. It is so precisely targetable that radiation oncologists can use it to shrink and destroy tumors without damaging vital, nearby tissue. As you undergo therapy, the system’s imaging technology tracks the tumor in real-time and makes adjustments as you breathe, a process called respiratory gating. SRBT provides such precise targeting that radiation oncologists can increase the radiation dosage and deliver it over a shorter period of time. You will typically have one to five treatment sessions rather than the standard six to eight weeks of traditional EBRT treatment. During each session, a radiation therapist will carefully position you on the treatment table using a full body immobilizer. Image guidance will be used to confirm the location of the tumor before the therapy begins. The sessions are pain-free and require no sedation so you can return to your normal activities right away.
Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs circulated in the bloodstream to control the tumor and destroy cancerous cells. It is not used as a standard treatment for early prostate cancer although some clinical studies show it may help prevent or stall a recurrence if given a short time after surgery. Like hormone therapy, chemotherapy is unlikely to cure the cancer but may slow its growth and help reduce symptoms.
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