The first thing that any patient will want to know about a potential prostate treatment option is how effective it is at actually treating the cancer. According to numerous studies, including ones by the International Journal of Radiation Oncology and the International Society of Urology, biochemical failure rates (the return of a previously treated cancer) are the same for proton therapy as they are for conventional prostate cancer treatments such as brachytherapy and radical prostatectomy. This means that patients get the benefits of proton therapy without compromising their chance for a cure.
These days, men have many different prostate cancer treatment options available to them. Which one they choose, however, can depend on a number of different factors, including their age, general health, psychological state, feelings about potential side effects and, most importantly, the specific circumstances of their cancer. With so many options, the best treatment for prostate cancer is never cut and dry. Since prostate cancer treatment side effects can vary widely, it is important to weigh all of your options with your doctor before making a final decision.
Radiation to the bladder and surrounding areas caused by conventional prostate cancer treatments can cause incontinence. Because proton therapy limits the radiation to the tumor itself, patients have a greater chance of avoiding urinary complications such as involuntary leakage.
Treating prostate cancer with surgery can result in erectile dysfunction is one of the most common side effects. Due to proton therapy’s targeted approach, studies have found that patients treated using this method have a significantly reduced risk of impotence, with 94% of men reporting that they remain sexually active after treatment.
Multiple peer-reviewed prospective studies have found that proton therapy reduces the risk of gastrointestinal side effects in comparison to other prostate cancer treatments such as IMRT and conformal radiation therapy. This attributes to the fact that proton therapy decreases the radiation dose to gastrointestinal structures by at least 59% compared to X-rays.
Proton therapy is a relatively painless, non-invasive outpatient procedure. It does not require recovery time and has little to no impact on a patient’s energy level. At Loma Linda University Medical Center, the once-daily therapy sessions last only about 15 minutes total, leaving you plenty of time to continue leading an active lifestyle.