Prostate Cancer Treatment
Managing the Road to Recovery
If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with cancer, this section is designed to support you.
Receiving the news that you have prostate cancer is overwhelming. You may feel anxious, depressed, frustrated, and angry. It is important to remember you are not alone, there are many resources and people to support you.
Advanced Urology Associates is here to accompany you on your journey and committed to providing patients with the best treatment to help ensure they can live a healthy and fulfilling life.
In this section we cover the steps of getting treatments and show what the road to recovery is like at The Prostate Cancer Center.
Newly Diagnosed: A time to learn.
If your doctor has told you that you have cancer, you many have a lot of questions. Can I be cured? What kinds of treatment would be best for me to help me get well? Will it hurt? How long will treatment take? How much will it cost? How will my life change while I’m being treated and after the treatment ends? These are all normal questions. If you have more questions, ask your doctor or nurse to help you. It is always best to be open and honest with them. That way, they can help you decide what the best treatment for you is.
Now that you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you are facing some critical decisions about your treatment plan. This section may help you sort out the massive amount of available information and help you ask relevant questions of your doctors. It may help you eliminate options that are not right for you.
- Almost 100% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive in 5 years*.
- Over 90% of prostate cancer cases are found while the cancer is still eitherlocal or regional, and nearly 100% of these men are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed.
- In cases where the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, 34% survive 5 years.
- After 10 years, about 98% of men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer are still alive*, but only 17.6% of those diagnosed with advanced-stage prostate cancer survive 10 years*.
*not including those who died from other causes.
At The Prostate Cancer Center, we are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art radiation therapy in a supportive environment. We focus on delivering the best treatment as well as on patients’ overall well-being, so they can heal faster and get back to their lives.
Choosing Radiation Therapy: Your journey is unique….like you.
Prostate Cancer can be treated in many ways. The usual treatments include surgery, radiation, and medications. In some cases, watchful waiting (monitoring the cancer without treating it) is a choice. The treatment plan your healthcare team will suggest depends on many factors. These include your age, your overall health, how fast the cancer is growing, and whether it has spread.
Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to treat cancer and other problems. Special equipment sends high doses of radiation to the cancer cells or tumor. This keeps the cells from growing and making more cancer cells. Radiation therapy is used to treat prostate cancer that is still confined to the prostate gland or has spread only to nearby tissue. The goal of radiation is to destroy cancer cells by decreasing their ability to divide. Sometime, radiation therapy is the only treatment needed. Other times, it is one part of a patient’s treatment. Radiation therapy is a local treatment. This means it affects only the part of the body being treated.
Benefits of Radiation Therapy:
- Fewer short- and long-term side effects
- Targets tumors and cancer cells with precision, reducing the risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissues and organs
- Improves quality of life during and after treatment
On your first visit to the cancer center you will have an initial meeting/consultation with your cancer doctor who is a radiation oncologist and your nurse to discuss your treatment plan. Our process is designed around minimizing your stress and preparing you for what’s to come. Your team also includes your radiation therapists. This team of individuals will stay with you throughout your entire course of treatment and remain involved during your follow-up care. Having the same team of individuals throughout therapy ensures consistency of care. A history and physical exam will be done. The process of IMRT will be discussed and any questions or concerns that you may have will be addressed. You will be given more information about what to expect during each step of your treatment. During this visit we will also review your insurance benefits and the financial implications of your treatment. Further if you consent to treatment, you will be asked to sign consent form and you will be scheduled for an appointment for marker placement at the urology clinic.
After you’ve had your consultation and any additional tests you may need, you will be scheduled to come to the center for a Marker Placement. Marker placement involves implanting gold markers in the prostate or prostate bed to target the treatment area and focus the radiation beam. The markers are placed in the prostate utilizing the same procedure as was used to obtain the biopsy samples. These markers do not need to be removed at the end of treatment and provide us with a target to align your daily treatment. We will give you specific instructions when we schedule your appointment.
After a physical exam and a review of your medical history and test results, your doctor will pinpoint the treatment area. In a process call simulation, you will be asked to lie still on a table while the radiation therapist uses a special diagnostic x-ray machine to define your treatment field (also called treatment port). This is the exact place on your body where the radiation will be aimed.
To ensure the radiation beam is aimed correctly, special molds or casts of parts of your body will be made to help you remain still during your treatment. A radiation therapist will mark the field with semi-permanent ink. These marks will be used to properly align you on the treatment table during your course of therapy. The marks will fade away over time, but they need to remain until your treatment is completed. Avoid using soap or scrubbing these marks. Sometimes the area will be marked with permanent dots like a tattoo.
By using the information from the simulation, other tests, and your medical background, your doctor will decide how much radiation is needed, how it will be given, and how many treatments you should have. The CT images are used by your medical team to create a personalized treatment plan specifically for you. The treatment plan will provide important details, including the exact dose of photons you need to target your tumor with precision.
Scheduling your therapy sessions
Once your personal treatment plan is complete, a radiation therapist from your team will contact you. He or she will tell you how many treatments your doctor has prescribed and schedule your first appointment for radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy IMRT treatments to the prostate are given 5 days a week for 7 to 9 weeks. Weekend rest breaks allow normal cells to recover. But the total dose of radiation and the number of treatments you need depends on:
- The size and location of your cancer
- The type of cancer
- Your general health
- Any other treatments you are receiving
IMRT Radiation treatments are painless. The experience is just like having a regular x-ray taken. The treatment takes only a few minutes; but each session may last 15 to 30 minutes because of the time it takes to set up the equipment and place you in the correct position.
You will lie on a treatment table positioned under the radiation machine. Since radiation therapy is so precise, you must be in a very specific, predetermined position to ensure the radiation beam hits the target directly. You will be asked to lie still during the set-up process and while the beam is on.
You do not have to hold your breath- just breathe normally. Once you are in the correct position, the radiation therapist will go into a nearby room to turn on the machine and watch you on a TV monitor. You will be able to talk with the therapist over an intercom.
During the actual treatment, you will not feel or see the radiation beam. It is invisible. The radiation therapy machine will make clicking and whirring noises and sometimes sound like a vacuum cleaner as it moves to aim at the treatment area from different angles. These sounds usually go unnoticed by patients after a few treatment sessions. The radiation therapist controls the movement and checks to be sure it is working properly. If you are concerned about anything that happens in the treatment room, ask your therapist to explain. If you feel ill or uncomfortable during the treatment, tell your therapist at once. The machine can be stopped at any time.
We’re dedicated to making your treatments as comfortable as possible for you. Patients are encouraged to let us know their favorite music or bring in their own CDs. We can arrange to have it playing for you during your individual treatment sessions.
After Treatment: Follow-Up Care
We are dedicated to you while you are undergoing treatments and after your completion. We are committed to help you return to a normal life as soon as possible. After your radiation therapy ends, you will need regular doctor visits to check your progress and help you deal with any problems that arise. This phase of your treatment is called follow-up care. Your follow-up care will include checking the results of your treatment, as well as appointments with your urologist.
Questions you may want to ask your doctor after radiation therapy:
- When can I go back to my normal activity?
- How often will my follow-up appointments be scheduled?
- Which tests will be done and why?
- Do I need to continue changes in my diet?
- When can I resume sexual activity?
Getting Support: Having Cancer is hard. Finding Help isn’t.
No matter what type of treatment you choose, life with prostate cancer can be a challenge. Your goal should be to live as normal a life as possible. We know the most advanced technology available is nothing without a caring staff to help make it all possible.
That is why Advanced Urology Associates is here to help you achieve this goal and to help you cope with any physical and emotional issues that result from treatment. Patients like you are our primary focus. Everything we do is designed to support you on your journey toward healing.
Extra support when you need it most:
It may not be an easy road, but you are never alone. As you progress along your journey, you may find the need for multiple interventions for support. Us Too Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network is a not-for-profit organization started 1990 by prostate cancer survivors to serve prostate cancer patients and their families.
Us TOO is here for you; our goal is to provide support for you and your loved ones, information to illuminate your decisions, and a safe place for you to share and learn. You are not alone. At The Prostate Cancer Center, we understand and we care.
The Joliet UsTOO Chapter, sponsored by Advanced Urology Associates meets the 3rd Wednesday of every Month. Our meetings provide emotional support and unbiased information in areas related to prostate cancer. Meetings are free and open to all men, their partners, family, friends, and health professionals interested in prostate cancer. UsTOO Support Page