Many prostate cancer patients share the same questions and concerns. Below is a list of questions and answers we’ve compiled based on the subjects that matter most to our patients.
If your question is not included in the list, feel free to email your question by clicking here. Please allow several days for your question response.
1. How treatable is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is among the cancers most responsive to treatment when diagnosed early. When detected in the local and regional stages prostate cancer is eradicated in virtually 100% of cases. Today more than 4 million prostate cancer survivors are alive and well in the US.
2. How can I tell if I have prostate cancer?
In the early stages of prostate cancer most men will not report any symptoms. Those who do most commonly complain of frequent, slow or painful urination, sexual performance issues, and pain or stiffness in the lower back or haunches. Most prostate cancer is detected in the doctor’s office by either a blood test or a rectal exam, both of which are recommended annually for men after the age of fifty.
3. What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?
Age, race and family history are all possible predictors of a higher risk for prostate cancer. More than 65% of prostate cancer occurs in men over 65 and the risk increases significantly after age 40. African-American men are 56% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasians. And those with a family member who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer have twice the risk of the general population. For more details on risk factors visit our More Information page.
4. What is the most effective treatment for prostate cancer?
Depending on the size, location and severity of your cancer, there are a number of effective therapies your physicians may recommend. Surgery, external radiation, radioactive seeds, and hormone treatments are all valid approaches and your care team may recommend any or some combination of several of those methods based on your symptoms and prognosis. For more details on treatment options visit our More Information page.
5. What are the side effects of radiation for prostate cancer?
Compared to other treatment methods, external beam radiation therapy tends to cause fewer and less severe side effects. The treatment itself is painless and fast. However, as with any cancer treatment, side effects are reported by some patients during or after treatment. These may include temporary urinary frequency or loss of urine control, discomfort or difficulty in urinating, the appearance of blood in urine, feces or semen and impotence. In most cases where these symptoms occur, they are short-lived. Your physician will explain the likelihood of your experiencing these and rarer side effects and their possible duration.
For more on the intimate side effects of radiation please visit our “For Men Only” page.
6. Is Surgery better than Radiation at Curing my Prostate Cancer?
To date, no randomized studies have shown the superiority of surgery over external beam radiation in terms of curing your prostate cancer. The decision to undergo one treatment approach over the other centers around eligibility for each approach as well as the side effects of each treatment approach.
7. What is RapidArc treatment?
RapidArc is the most advanced form of intensity modulated external beam radiation therapy (IMRT). RapidArc therapy is delivered in a fraction of the time of other IMRT delivery systems in a highly conformal approach. During a RapidArc treatment, the linac’s gantry makes one full revolution while the radiation beam is delivered. The Delaware Valley Urology Cancer Treatment Center is the first center in the Delaware Valley to offer this advanced treatment approach to its patients.
8. How many radiation treatments will I require for my Prostate Cancer?
Most patients receive about 40 daily treatments over an 8 week period. The exact number will vary based on your type of cancer, size and scope of your radiation fields, and the risk of side effects.
9. Are patients made radioactive?
No. Patients undergoing daily external beam radiation treatments are not radioactive as part of this therapy. There is no radiation exposure risk to the people around you.
10. Will radiation therapy damage my healthy cells?
In destroying and slowing the growth of cancer cells, radiation can also damage healthy cells. The healthy cells almost always recover after treatment, but in cases where cell damage is permanent, patients may experience side effects that do not improve over time. Doctors try to protect healthy cells during treatment by:
- Calculating the lowest possible effective dose of radiation.
- Delivering shorter treatments over a longer period to give healthy cells time to recover.
- Spreading out the radiation dose allows normal cells to recover while cancer cells die.
- Aiming radiation precisely at the affected area. The RapidArc® system at Delaware Valley Cancer Treatment Center represents the state of the art in accuracy and dosage efficiency.
11. Does radiation therapy hurt?
The process of radiation therapy is painless. But the side effects of radiation therapy can be uncomfortable. If you experience pain during or after your treatment please speak with a member of your care team who can recommend ways to manage or reduce your discomfort.
12. Can I continue working during radiation therapy?
Whether or not you can continue to work or attend school is an individual decision. Depending on the dosage you receive and the nature of your work you may feel strong enough to continue working full time. However, you may need to manage your workload as your treatment progresses or you may need to stop working at some point during your treatment. If you do feel unable to work, ask your employer if you can go on medical leave. Make sure that your health insurance will pay for treatment when you are on medical leave.
13. Should I change my diet and exercise routine during radiation therapy?
Your body uses a lot of energy to heal during radiation therapy. It is important that you eat enough calories and protein to maintain your weight during this time. Ask your doctor or nurse if you need a special diet. Some studies indicate that a regimen of moderate exercise can help manage the fatigue associated with radiation treatments. You and your care team should discuss the type and amount of exercise that is appropriate for your condition.
14. What’s next? Life after radiation therapy
After your radiation treatment ends, your care will continue in the form of follow-up appointments with your radiation oncologist or nurse practitioner. During these checkups, your doctor or nurse will monitor the effectiveness of your treatment, check for cancer symptoms and late side effects, and talk with you about your treatment and care.
Based on the results of your checkup, your physician or nurse may recommend further testing or additional treatments. Prior to a follow-up appointment is always a good idea to write down any questions or concerns you have so you will remember to discuss them.
For more Information on Radiation Therapy, please click here.
Accredited by the premier credentialing body for radiation oncology, ACR (The American College of Radiology).
The Delaware Valley Urology Cancer Treatment Center
2090 Springdale Rd,
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
Featuring the Philadelphia area's first RapidArc Radiotherapy suite