About Prostate Cancer
Cancer of the prostate is the most common cancer (outside of skin cancer) found in American men. Approximately 200,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year and nearly 40,000 men will die from the disease. Despite the gravity of a prostate cancer diagnosis, there is a surprising amount of good news to report about this disease today.
- Although statistics show prostate cancer is on the rise, we know much of this is due to a dramatic increase in early detection. Screening procedures are more common and heightened public awareness has helped more men ask their doctors to be tested.
- Extensive research in this field of medicine has lead to great advances in treatment and care of prostate cancer patients.
- These new treatment options, the most remarkable of which is called brachytherapy (pronounced "brak-e-therapy") have profoundly improved the standards for quality of life.
What is Brachytherapy?
Simply defined, brachytherapy is the technique of implanting radiation
sources directly into the tumor - either
alone or in combination with Conformal Extermal beam Radiation when appropriate.
This advanced process enables specialists to deliver the maximum-targeted
dose of radiation to treat the disease effectively. Patients value brachytherapy
for significantly reducing the chance of long-term side effects
that other treatment options pose, such as incontinence (loss of bladder
control), and impotence (loss of erectile function). Additionally, other
more invasive surgical procedures have a higher risk of potential complications
not to mention a considerably longer period of recovery.
Prostate Brachytherapy involves the use of tiny radiation "seeds" placed directly
into the gland.
How Does It Work?
As you may
know, prostate cancer may first be suspected following a digital rectal
exam or a PSA blood test which can detect an abnormality. If a doctor
suspects prostate cancer, a transrectal ultrasound and biopsy is often
used to verify and grade the cancer. If the biopsy is positive, doctors
will perform further scans and tests to detect if the cancer has spread
to any other areas of the body. In cancers confined to the prostate and
surrounding region, we utilize ultrasound to most precisely image the cancer.
This technology enables us to view the tumor and organs
from all sides, both for the purpose of cancer staging and to customize
the best treatment programs when planning the positioning of "seeds."
Also seeds can be placed in extracapsular locations to extend the reach of the
dose cloud. This method has been utilized
and refined for over a decade.
X-Ray showing uniform distribution of seeds after brachytherapy.
Where To Turn
So the diagnosis has been made. Now what do you do? You start by finding a team of professionals who can help you fully understand your options. At the Florida Oncology Network, our team of experienced medical experts uses the most state-of-the-art technology to offer more options to patients than ever thought possible. Because each individual case is different, each should be treated as such. It is our objective to discuss all treatment options at length with our patients, so that they can make informed decisions that are in their best interest and the best interests of their loved ones. And we work in partnership with our patients on their chosen course of treatment to ensure maximum recovery.
Potential Treatment Options
Brachytherapy - An outpatient procedure which implants radioactive seeds within the prostate to generate an internal "cloud" of radiation to the affected prostate gland. Surrounding organs are exposed to minimal radiation dosages.
Radiation - The delivery of external beam radiation to the prostatic gland and surrounding area to kill cancerous cells. It may be done using either conventional, 3-D conformal or IMRT techniques. This approach minimizes the risk of incontinence and erectile disfunction compared to surgery.
Surgery - Otherwise known as radical prostatectomy accompanied by lymph node dissection, it is complete removal of the prostate gland, seminal vesicles, part of the vas deferens, and sampling of lymph nodes, all of which may result in high rates of incontinence or impotence.
Hormonal Therapy - A treatment regimen which involves blocking or antagonizing the action of testosterone, this may be used for advanced stages of the disease, or in combination with definitive local treatments.
Cryosurgery - A technique of freezing the cancerous cells which destroys the prostate and often leaves the patient impotent.
Watchful Waiting - Basically knowing that one has cancer and decides to allow the illness to takes its course.