Types of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, consequences, rehabilitation
The disease does not spare anyone; cancer is one of the most severe. If you do not consult a doctor on time, then big problems can arise. Then you can’t do nothing with medicines here. It is necessary to resort to cardinal actions, which include radiation therapy. With prostate cancer, its consequences are unpredictable. We’ll talk about this now, but first ...
What is radiation therapy?
This is an effective and appropriate treatment for cancer pathologies, which include prostate cancer. It is based on ionizing radiation, acts purposefully, destroys only diseased cells, healthy ones are not exposed to it.
- Ion emission is directed to where molecules containing water and tumor cells are located.
- After the beam hits, hydrogen peroxide and free radicals appear in them.
- The resulting products block the work of diseased cells, their growth and reproduction.
Treatment of prostate cancer with radiation therapy is also based on the fact that the activity of radicals and hydrogen peroxide depends on metabolism. The higher it is, the more the tumor eats more actively, which, in turn, leads to an increase in the harmful effects of radiation on it.
This method of treatment is used at all stages of the development of the disease, regardless of the area of organ damage and the spread of metastases. In addition, radiation therapy is effectively used after removal of prostate cancer as a prophylactic and therapeutic agent.
Radiation directed to cancer cells is divided into two types:
- wave - based on gamma radiation and x-rays,
- the corpuscular method is proton therapy, which includes: electron radiation, alpha and beta particles, neutron and proton radiation.
There are three ways that radiation therapy can affect a malignant tumor:
Varieties of procedure
At present, several varieties have radiation therapy for prostate cancer, the consequences and effectiveness of treatment depend on the form of the disease:
- Conformal. It is used if it becomes necessary to completely and uniformly irradiate a pathogenic tumor. A 3D image of the education is created. In this case, all tissues and organs located nearby are taken into account. Radiation ions affect only cancer cells, intact organs and tissues remain intact.
- With modulated intensity. The beam that goes to the tumor is divided into several smaller ones. The strength of each of the beam fluxes is programmed. In this regard, healthy areas of the prostate receive a small dose of radiation, while pathogenic cells have a major effect.
- Proton. Experts believe that this method is the most effective for prostate cancer. Protons act only on diseased cells, but not with all forms of cancer this procedure is prescribed.
- Neutron Used if other methods did not help.
The peculiarities of this type of irradiation are that during the session there is a destructive effect not only on diseased cells, but also on healthy ones. A special apparatus is used for the procedure; it helps to regulate the wavelength, which contributes to the maximum possible reduction in the effect of rays on a healthy area.
This equipment is highly accurate, and only a trained specialist can work with it. If the device is used incorrectly, the patient may not improve his condition, but rather worsen it.
First, an examination is carried out, after which the volumetric location of the tumor is built, and then the doctor tries to direct the radio waves to it.
Remote radiation therapy for prostate cancer is carried out every day or according to a schedule drawn up by the attending physician for seven to eight weeks.
Remote therapy, in turn, is divided into two types: fixed and mobile.
The first view is as follows:
- The patient is placed in one specific position.
- A radiation source is sent to it (it is also stationary).
Second view, mobile:
- Move the radiation source.
- They direct it to a prostate tumor, the device moves around the patient and acts on cancer cells from all sides.
Sometimes when using this method, a short break in treatment is required.
Interstitial method (brachytherapy)
An effective cancer treatment is brachytherapy. This method is most successful if the tumor is within the prostate gland. Its essence is as follows: with the help of a special needle, a radioactive substance is introduced into the tumor. The substance used is iodine -125. The procedure is controlled by ultrasound.
Depending on how the capsules containing the radioactive substance are located, brachytherapy is divided into:
After the procedure, the patient is in the hospital for 24 hours. Relief occurs in a few days. A radioactive substance breaks down in the body within two months. During this time, cancer cells die.
The main plus of brachytherapy is that radiation affects only damaged cells, healthy ones remain intact. That's why after this procedure less complications develop than after remote irradiation.
Proton Method and Adjuvant Therapy
This is one of the non-invasive types of radiation therapy that helps get rid of prostate cancer. This method is based on the precise action of radiation on the pathogenic point formed in the gland. Due to the fact that the dose is accurately distributed, all forms of cancer are completely cured. There are no side complications.
The next method is adjuvant radiation therapy for prostate cancer. Used as:
- auxiliary agent
- a means of complementing surgical intervention.
The goal of this therapy is to destroy the secondary tumor.
This method affects the spread of cancer cells and their growth. The energy of powerful radiation can kill diseased cells that remain after surgery. In this way, the effectiveness of treatment is increased. Depending on the desired purpose, internal or external radiation is used. It is sent to the place of tumor formation, the risk of oncology recurrence in this area is reduced.
Palliative radiation therapy
Most often, such radiation therapy is used for prostate cancer. The consequences of the disease in this case reach the fourth stage. Palliative view is aimed at alleviating the patient's condition. External radiation therapy helps to reduce swelling and pain and involves the following measures:
- To remove the symptoms of the disease, surgery is performed, transurethral resection of the prostate. Thanks to palliative treatment, it is possible to reduce the development of the disease.
- This type of radiation therapy is prescribed in combination with hormonal drugs at the last stage of prostate cancer. This event reduces pain, eliminates the side effects of cancer cells.
- When locally advanced prostate cancer is detected, an ultrasound ablation technique is used, which also refers to palliative therapy. It helps eliminate the side effects of the disease.
The consequences of radiation therapy
Although the introduction of new techniques can reduce negative feelings after the procedure, but still it is radiation therapy. With prostate cancer, the consequences after it still exist:
- There are problems with the rectum. Diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome may appear. Over time, these troubles go away.
- There are questions related to the work of the bladder and urination. The patient suffers from frequent urination, burning during it and the presence of blood in the urine. These troubles pass after a while.
- The development of impotence and erectile dysfunction. The incidence of these problems is the same as after surgery. But there is a difference: after surgery, impotence develops immediately, and after irradiation - gradually, throughout the year.
- After radiation therapy was used for prostate cancer (the reviews of patients who went through this procedure confirm this), the first time there is constant fatigue and fatigue. This condition persists for a couple of months.
- Disturbed outflow of lymph. This is the cause of edema of the lower extremities.
- Narrowing of the urethra. The urethra is sometimes damaged, urine outflow is disturbed.
How to behave during treatment
Many are worried about the question: what to expect after radiation therapy for prostate cancer has been performed? Its effectiveness depends on compliance with the following rules:
- During the procedure, nutrition should be not only high-calorie, but also full. The diet should include all vitamins and minerals. Be sure to follow the drinking regimen (up to three liters of fluid per day).
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Clothing should be loose, light, made from natural fabrics. It is advisable to keep the exposure areas open. When going out, they must be protected from the sun.
- Do not use soap or other cosmetics. When taking a shower, remember the marks on the body.
- If redness, itching, or sweating develops, be sure to consult your doctor.
- Constant walks in the fresh air, appropriate physical activity, a sound and full sleep - this is another step towards getting rid of the disease.
Life after radiation therapy
Recovery begins immediately after the end of the irradiation sessions. It includes such moments:
- rest during the day
- full sleep
- sparing mode
- emotional mood
- proper and proper nutrition,
- giving up all bad habits.
During this period, the help of not only the doctor, but also relatives is very important.
Since the treatment is not yet completed, you will have to go to procedures and studies, the emotional state in this regard often changes. The main thing in this period is not to become isolated, to communicate with friends and relatives. Try to observe the usual rhythm of life, do not give up household chores. If you are a little tired, lie down and rest.
If you work, ask the management to transfer you to easy work at least for a while. It is best, of course, to take a vacation during the rehabilitation period.
If all the doctor’s recommendations are followed, then the rehabilitation period will pass calmly, quickly and easily.
At different stages, the results are different:
- Irradiation in the first stage can replace surgery, healthy organs and tissues remain intact.
- After prostatectomy, radiation therapy is used for prostate cancer. The consequences after surgery in this case become minimal, since pathogenic cells are destroyed.
- In the later stages of the disease, radiation reduces pain.
Your health is in your hands. Try to visit your doctor constantly. He will monitor the course of the disease and, with the slightest deterioration, will prescribe treatment.
What happens when exposed
Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays (photons, ionizing radiation) and / or a stream of particles (protons, electrons). When radiation is used in high doses (many times higher than with x-ray studies), it can destroy abnormal cells. The death and damage of cancer cells increases with each session. This happens at the microscopic level, as a result of which the DNA of the tumor cell is damaged.
Patients do not feel radiation during the procedure, but they can hear some electrical noise and see warning signals from the device.
What are the effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer?
The consequences of radiation therapy for prostate cancer in each patient are individual, which largely depends on the initial data. In some, side effects are mild and go away on their own, while others require long-term rehabilitation.
General symptoms during radiotherapy:
- weakness, fatigue, asthenia,
- dysuric disorders: burning with frequent urination, a change in the quality of the urine stream, an admixture of blood,
- low-grade fever
- skin manifestations (radiation burn),
- pain and swelling in the scrotum, perineum,
- stool disorders: the appearance of mucus, blood, diarrhea, fecal incontinence.
Pathologies that may appear after radiotherapy:
First of all, it should be clarified that this procedure can be both an independent method of treatment of the diagnosis and represent successful addition to surgery and provide accelerated recovery of the patient.
Here the last word belongs to the doctor, who, after careful study of the medical history and diagnostics, can finally determine the optimal treatment regimen.
It is important to remember that radiation therapy for prostate cancer provides not only a therapeutic effect, but can also provoke extremely undesirable side effects in the affected body. The dose of radiation to the human body is acceptable, but the consequences and individual reactions may be the most unexpected..
That is why this serious procedure is carried out in conditions of additional hospitalization, while this requires more than one treatment course. As a rule, the time interval is about 6 months, but in any case, the timing of re-treatment is negotiated individually.
If prostate cancer is detected at stages 0, 1 or 2, then radiation therapy can act as the main treatment method., and does not require additional surgery to remove part of the affected organ. However, it is also appropriate at stages 3 and 4 in those clinical pictures in which surgical intervention is impossible.
As an adjunct treatment, radiation therapy complements chemo-hormone therapy, which is especially relevant at stages 3 and 4 of cancer. Doses of radiation are calculated individually, and depend on the structure, shape and size of the malignant tumor.
This procedure also can complement surgery that is carried out at all stages of the disease and is determined by the histological structure and growth form of the malignant neoplasm in the prostate gland of the male body.
If bone metastases are present in the medical history, then intense radiation therapy can somewhat reduce acute painwhile providing a decrease in the number of blood cells. And this is not the only side effect that is progressing amid such intensive care.
Since the procedure is very popular in modern oncology, one can judge its high efficiency and the healing of hopeless patients.
In modern medical practice, several types of radiation therapy have been developed., each of which has its own targeted effect on the focus of pathology. It:
- remote radiation therapy,
- proton therapy
- contact therapy.
The doctor carries out the selection of treatment methods individually.
Brachytherapy - a promising alternative to the classical technique
Another common form of radiation therapy is brachytherapy, which is already accompanied by a small degree of injury to a weakened body. After determining the focus of the pathology, a radioactive element is installed in it, which minimizes the spread of radiation to neighboring tissues and organs.
In medical practice, intracavitary, intravascular and interstitial brachytherapy is distinguished, where each modification, in contrast to remote irradiation minimizes the risk of complications and side effects, is well tolerated even in retirement age.
Temporary and permanent brachytherapy, which also require medical involvement and medical indications, are well known.
In the first case, we are talking about the introduction of a hollow needle into the prostate for 5 to 15 minutes with its further filling with a radioactive liquid. After the specified time interval has elapsed, the needle is removed and the fluid interacts with the cancer cells. It is necessary to perform several procedures in 3 to 4 days.
In the second case, radioactive implants under the close supervision of ultrasound are inserted into the prostate gland, and due to this, increased doses of radiation affect the focus of the pathology without affecting healthy tissues.
Brachytherapy, however, like remote radiation, has its advantages and disadvantages. Among the positive points should be highlighted:
- patient survival is 80%,
- high efficiency of the procedure
- minimal risk of complications
- rehabilitation lasts a couple of days,
- ultrasound control allows you to directly affect the focus of the pathology with a radioactive substance,
- the opportunity to return home the day after the procedure.
The following nuances are considered disadvantages.:
- dysuric disorders
- burning sensation with frequent urination,
- difficulty urinating or urinary incontinence,
- rectal bleeding,
In any case, it is worth focusing on the fact that this procedure is prescribed instead of prostatectomy when diagnosing the initial stage of cancer, to exterminate the cancer cells remaining after the operation, and also to relieve pain in the advanced stage.
The consequences of radiation therapy for prostate cancer are upset by the fact that healthy body cells are irradiatedAs a result of which their DNA and ability to reproduce new cells is violated, a gradual death of seemingly healthy tissues is observed.
Prevention and rehabilitation after radiation therapy
Recall that a malignant tumor in the prostate gland in the absence of effective treatment increases in size, while interfering with normal urination and leads to impaired reproductive function.
Radiation therapy is not the only successful treatmentConservative and operable methods are also known to destroy numerous cancer cells. However, without the required dose of radiation, they cannot be completely destroyed, and they continue to rapidly divide and modify.
However, the definitive suppression of cancer cells definitely takes time, and during this period it is necessary to remember the elementary rules of prevention, which must be strictly adhered to.
- Eliminate excessive physical exertion from your life.
- Constantly follow a therapeutic diet approved by the attending physician.
- Reduce alcohol consumption.
- Avoid unauthorized use of drugs and drugs.
- Monitor bowel movements and urination.
- Visit an oncologist regularly.
This is the only way to finally get rid of a fatal diagnosis, which can end with the most unexpected complications for the body. So it is important to strengthen vigilance and sensitivity to your health.
Related video: when radiation therapy is effective, and when you should adhere to another treatment method:
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Side effects of radiation therapy
Side effects on the background or after undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer in each case are different: some patients have many, others almost none.
Complications can develop immediately, a few days or weeks after exposure to rays.
Late side effects can occur in months or years, some of them do not pass completely.
It depends on a number of factors:
- irradiation area
- total dose of radiation
- type of radiation exposure
- type of cancer.