SpaceOAR at UroPartners for Prostate Cancer Radiation
Scary Prostate Radiation Side Effects: Bladder and Rectal Cancer
What You Need to Know About Radiation for Prostate Cancer
Recently, another retrospective study reported findings from over 400,000 men who received radiation for prostate cancer between 1992 and 2010 and had at least 10 years of follow-up. The authors found that rectal cancer occurred 1.7 times more often and bladder cancer 1.4 times more often in the men who had radiation therapy compared to of men who did not get radiation. Other studies have found that the cancers occurring after pelvic radiation tend to be more aggressive than the same cancers in men who did not receive this treatment.
These findings mean that men who undergo prostate radiation should be aware of these points:
- First, they should not delay seeking medical attention for a long period if any symptoms develop, such as the appearance of blood in the urine or stool, a change in bowel habits, or the development of pelvic pain.
- Second, they should be sure to inform their doctor about their previous history of prostate radiation because most family doctors may be unaware of the possible association and may neglect to inquire about this treatment.
How Radiation Treatment Changes May Affect Your Risk
Going forward, doctors need to carefully monitor patients who receive radiation because several changes are occurring. First, the dose of radiation being used today often is much higher than that used 15 to 20 years ago. This could increase the chances of a second cancer occurring and it may happen much sooner than in the past. Also, newer radiation approaches are now being used, including proton beam therapy, and a combination of IMRT and seed implantation. Another new approach is hyperfractionation, in which patients receive higher daily doses of radiation but the therapy is completed in a much shorter time span. Presently, little information is available beyond five years of using this approach, so it may be too early to know whether it will alter the risk of men developing one of these secondary cancers.
The bottom line for now: Men treated with radiation therapy need to be aware that they may have an increased risk of developing bladder or rectal cancer, and they should seek medical attention if any of the above symptoms occur, even if it is many years after their prostate cancer was treated.
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