Frequently Asked Questions About Prostate Cancer
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer begins in the cells of the prostate. Cancer begins when a group of cells in the body grows out of control. These cancer cells continue to grow and can crowd out normal cells. Cancer is always named for the place where it begins, so if prostate cancer spreads to the bone it is still considered prostate cancer. When these cells spread to another site it is called metastasis.
What are the Signs of Prostate Cancer?
Typically, most men with early stage prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms. As the cancer progresses, symptoms begin to appear. Some signs of advanced prostate cancer may include blood in the urine, loss of bowel / bladder control, trouble with having or keeping an erection, and pain in the back, hips, or ribs. Only your doctor can determine if these symptoms are caused by prostate cancer or another condition.
What Causes Prostate Cancer?
As of right now, nobody knows the exact causes of prostate cancer. But we do know things that can make a male more at risk for prostate cancer. A family history of prostate cancer increases your risk for developing the disease. Age also plays a large role in ones risk for developing prostate cancer. As a man gets older, his risk of getting prostate cancer drastically increases. Finally, African-American males are at a greater risk for prostate cancer than Caucasian males.
Do the Radiation Therapy Treatments Hurt?
The actual radiation treatments are 100% painless. The radiation cannot be seen or felt by the patient.
Can I be Around Children or Pregnant Women During My Radiation Course?
Sure. The radiation therapy treatments do not make you radioactive. Once the radiation is turned off, there are no longer residual amounts of radiation, and it is perfectly safe to be around any person.
How Long Do the Daily Radiation Treatments Take?
On average, the daily treatment takes between 10 to 20 minutes.
Are There Any Restrictions While on Treatment or After IMRT Treatment?
No. Patients undergoing radiation therapy are able to continue their normal day to day activities without any restrictions during and after treatment.
How is Radiation Used to Treat Prostate Cancer?
Radiation is used to treat prostate cancer by emitting an external beam localized to the prostate gland. When the beam comes in contact with the cancer cells, it destroys them leaving them unable to regenerate and multiply. Radiation also affects normal cells, yet these cells have the ability to repair themselves while cancer cells cannot.
Can I Still Maintain My Sexual Activity While on Treatment?
Erectile dysfunction is a possible side effect of radiation therapy; however it is less common in radiation therapy patients than in patients who choose surgery alone. The probability of erectile dysfunction is dependent on various factors, such as diabetes and heart disease. Other treatments, such as hormone therapy, can also influence the risk of erectile dysfunction. You should discuss with your treatment team what is best for you.
Are There Any Dietary Restrictions While Going Through Treatments?
While there are no dietary restrictions, having a well-balanced diet can give your body the energy it needs to help you perform your daily activities, fight infections, and heal. A diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are an essential part of a well-balanced diet.
How do I Know if the Radiation Treatments Worked and all the Cancer is Gone?
Concluding your radiation therapy treatments, you will be asked to follow-up with the physician in one month. At this appointment, a PSA blood test may be done depending on if the patient is receiving hormone treatments. Your urologist and radiation oncologist will communicate to decide when the best time for the PSA test will be. This blood test is the only detection on whether the radiation has killed all the cancer cells or not.