Comprehensive Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer
As part of the Northwestern Medicine cancer care network, the Proton Center is dedicated to helping you understand your treatment options.
A type of external beam radiation therapy that uses proton radiation to kill cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. Proton therapy is a non-invasive treatment that is as effective as X-ray radiation in treating prostate cancer.1,8 The benefit of this type of radiation over standard X-rays is the precision in targeting the tumor. Because of the precision, proton therapy can significantly reduce the dose of radiation to the rectum and bladder.1 As a result, there is a reduced risk of short- and long-term side effects.1,3 Northwestern Medicine uses the SpaceOAR® hydrogel system to further reduce the risk of rectal injury in men receiving prostate cancer radiation therapy acting as a spacer – pushing the rectum away from the prostate and out of the high dose radiation treatment region.
Standard X-ray radiation
This includes IMRT, 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT), CyberKnife®, RapidArc™ radiation, IGRT and TomoTherapy®. These common forms of external beam radiation therapy use X-ray radiation to kill cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. Possible side effects include damage to the rectum and bladder9 and the possibility of impotence. Northwestern Medicine uses the SpaceOAR® hydrogel system to further reduce the risk of rectal injury in men receiving prostate cancer radiation therapy acting as a spacer – pushing the rectum away from the prostate and out of the high dose radiation treatment region.
The placement of radioactive seeds in the prostate. The main benefit of this invasive form of radiation therapy is that patients can leave the hospital immediately after the radioactive seeds are implanted. The major disadvantage with brachytherapy is that seeds can move after implantation, resulting in uneven treatment of the cancer cells. Patients become radioactive for a period of months following treatment. Side effects may last as long as the seeds are active (usually a few months), and they may continue and become chronic. In a study, many patients noted a significant decrease in health-related quality of life at one and three months post-treatment.9 Urinary issues are the most common side effect of seed implantations.9
A radical prostatectomy is an operation to remove the prostate gland and tissues surrounding it. Because so many nerves surround the prostate, damage to the nerves is a significant risk for all patients undergoing surgery. Patients electing to have surgery will want to find a surgeon who specializes in this procedure and has many years of experience. Most men stay in the hospital two to three days after the procedure. A urinary catheter is inserted during surgery, and some men may need to wear it home for a few days or weeks. Potential short- and long-term side effects include pain around the incision, urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
“Watchful Waiting” or Active Surveillance
For this choice, patients are regularly tested and not given therapy unless their cancer progresses.
Request more information or call 877.887.5807 to learn if you can benefit from proton therapy.