Prostate cancer – radiation therapy
Prostate cancer – radiation and chemotherapy
What is it and for whom?
Prostate cancer is malign tumor development in prostate which is a gland in male reproductive system. It is a disease normally associated with men over their the age of 50 and runs in the family – ageing is known to be the single largest risk factor and in Nordics the mean age of diagnosis is 70 years. Other known risk factors are smoking and obesity.
The development of the tumor is usually slow and can in most cases be tracked by specific blood tests (prostate specific antigen, PSA) as well as clinical examination at a physician’s appointment. Tumor development may come from benign prostate hypertrophy as well which means growth of a non-malignant prostate over time – there are also other precancerous conditions of the prostate as well. Specific biopsy is normally needed for diagnosis and screening. Diagnosis is normally done by urologists and pathologists who build the TNM-classification of the tumor. Usually imaging with MRI or specialized CT is used as well to clarify possible metastatic tumors.
Common symptoms are difficulty in urinating, blood in urine, pain when urinating. Some men might have trouble with erection as well.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers and it has a good recovery rate with over 85% over 5-year periods. However, the good recovery rate is for local cancer only. In metastatic stage the average life span is only 2 or 3 years despite having treatment. The treatment of metastatic prostate cancer is under constant development.
Read more about prostate cancer from here https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/what-is-prostate-cancer.html
Arrival to treatment depends on the treatment path. Also, the time spent in treatment location is also dependent to the treatment path – surgery can be faster than the following cancer treatment. This is up to medical experts to decide about your treatment type.
All in all, you can expect to spend around two to six weeks in minimum in your overseas medical treatment location. You are also able to travel back home during this time if you wish so and your condition allows you to travel. If you are receiving treatment for metastatic prostate cancer the treatment time can be up to several months in total.
Specific treatment method and path depends on the type of tumour – thus an expensive ($3,000-7,000USD) diagnostics package is to be completed before the treatment may begin. This is done to get detailed information about the specific details of the tumour which affects the used treatment methods.
For local tumours radiation therapy is a common and effective method. It is divided into radiation inside the prostate (HDR brachytherapy) and external radiation (Radiation therapy). Sometimes a combination of these methods is used for the best possible result.
This treatment is performed normally once every two weeks for 3 to 5 times. It is performed in general anesthesia and requires patient to stay overnight in the hospital. Otherwise it is possible to stay in an apartment, hotel or to fly home in between the treatment times. You can read more about the treatment method here.
External radiation therapy
This treatment is external radiation therapy aimed for a specific target area in patient’s prostate. It is performed weekly or every two weeks for around 8 week depending on the tumour specifics. Treatment is not usually performed in anesthesia as it is relatively pain-free. You can read more about the treatment here.
Recovery and rehabilitation
If everything goes well the recovery is relatively fast and doesn’t need any special activities. No active or guided rehabilitation is required if overall condition of patient is good.
After treatment a blood work and appointment with a specialized physician is recommended for control. This can happen at your local physician, and is to be scheduled every few months or half a year.
Complication risk for radiation therapy is relatively small as it is not a major invasive treatment method. However, normal risks such as skin inflammation, nausea, weakness appear as well as some more complicated risks – yet these are rare.