Prostate cancer has become one of the commonly diagnosed cancers in older men. This is actually one of the most common types of cancer in men. The tumor generally affects men above the age of 65 even though it may also occur in younger men.
Prostate cancer is a serious illness but it can be well treated with several treatment modalities. The disease can be brought under control and patients may live for a longer period of time after being diagnosed with the tumor. In initial stages the tumor is treated surgically while advanced stages require radiation therapy. The tumor may be also controlled with the hormonal therapy. Chemotherapy is not standard treatment for prostate cancer although it may provide with certain effects and is usually administered in advanced stages of the disease.
Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer
The goal of radiation therapy is to destroy cancer cells and this way prevent their multiplication, growth of the tumor and potential spread to nearby or distant tissues and organs. Even though radiation therapy has a success in destruction of the tumor it also has certain side effects.
There are two types of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, external and internal radiation therapy. In external radiation therapy the radiation is administered from the external source. The procedure is painless and it lasts for 5-6 weeks depending on each case. In case of internal radiation therapy seeds that posses radioactive energy are inserted directly into the prostate. They emit radiation and kill the cancer cells. Radiation is limited to the prostate and does not affect the nearby organs. As a mater of fact the nearby organs and structures do absorb some of the radiation but the level of such radiation is within the limited range.
Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer
One of the frequent side effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer is extreme fatigue and tiredness. During the treatment patients should have plenty of rest. Fatigue is only a temporary problem and it soon stops once the patient has finished with the treatment.
Some patients may develop incontinence. This is much more serious side effect of radiation therapy for prostate cancer. The problem occurs due to the damage of the urinary sphincter. The muscle is not capable of holding the urine and incontinence develops. The problem is either temporary or permanent when it requires surgical correction.
One more side effect of radiation therapy for prostate cancer is impotence. During the treatment patients suffer from erectile dysfunction. In case testicles are in the field of radiation a person may even become sterile.
And finally, one more complication of such radiation therapy is diarrhea. This problem develops as the consequence of irritation of the terminal part of the large intestine. This side effect is effectively dealt with medications and withdraws once the treatment is over.