Tag Archive | "radiation therapy"

Rectal Injuries During Treatment for Prostate Cancer Reduced by Tissue Spacers


Recent research has found that injecting a tissue space in the prostate-rectal inter-space is an effective way to reduce the rectal dose for prostate cancer patients receiving radiation therapy.  These results were presented at the Cancer Imaging and Radiation Therapy Symposium in Atlanta, sponsored by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Although prostate cancer is cured in over 90 percent of patients, reducing side effects from treatment complications remains an important concern.  A more common side effect is damaging the rectum during treatment.  For this reason, researchers wanted to determine if inserting an injectable tissue space would reduce the risks of radiation burns to the rectum.

Thirty-four prostate carcinoma patients were administered a tissue space compound to increase the separation between the prostate and the rectum in this study in addition to the radiation therapy they were receiving.  They were imaged by MRI pre-injection and every two weeks until the end of treatment to monitor changes.  The research tem found that the spacer produced an additional one centimeter on average separation between the prostate and rectum resulting in a significant reduction in the rectal dose administered, and it caused very little damage to the rectum.

Severe rectal radiation burns, the most serious risk of injury from the radiation were almost eliminated by injecting an absorbable material into the rectum.  This allows the radiation oncologist to increase the dose to the posterior prostate without concern of damaging the rectum.

Kenneth Tokita, MD, senior author of the study and the founder and medical director of Cancer Center of Irvine said that reducing the risk of rectal injury from the treatment makes radiation therapy the treatment of choice for prostate cancer.

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Prostate Cancer Survival Rate Improves with Short Term Hormone Therapy Coupled with Radiation Therapy


A new study published by the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) in the New England Journal of Medicine and supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute found that short-term hormone therapy (androgen deprivation therapy –ADT) given in combination with radiation therapy for me in early-state prostate cancer increases their chance of surviving longer and not dying from the cancer.  This was the largest randomized trial of its kind, enrolling almost 2,000 men at low and intermediate risk of prostate cancer progression and following their health status from October 1994 to April 2001 at 212 centers throughout the United States and Canada.

Male hormones (androgens) including testosterone increase the growth of prostate cancer cells.  Therapy that decreases the body’s levels of androgens (particularly four months of ADT starting two months prior to radiation therapy in this study) removes the strongest growth factor for prostate cancer cells.  Authors of the study report that adding short-term ADT to radiation therapy significantly improved the overall survival rate at 10 years from 57 to 62 percent.  Additionally, in a trial of different treatments on each of the patients’ two arms, the radiation therapy coupled with short-term ADT arm was associated with four percent fewer prostate cancer-related mortalities compared with the radiation therapy-alone arm.  More importantly, the reduction in disease-specific deaths was accounted for by the intermediate-risk study participants in the radiation therapy plus ADT arm (10 percent as opposed to three percent in radiation only arm at 10 years) while no reduction in deaths was seen among low-risk participants at 10 years.  These benefits were achieved with a mild increase in patient-reported erectile dysfunction at one year but no increase in observed long-term bowel or bladder toxicities.

About 240, 890 Americans will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and almost 9 out of 10 will have early-stage disease.

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Emotions and Radiation Therapy


Going through treatment and living with cancer is stressful. During radiation therapy, it’s common to feel depressed, anxious, afraid, frustrated, angry, helpless, or alone. Additionally, you may feel fatigued or tired, which may exacerbate these feelings or make it harder for you to cope with them.

However, there are things you can do to help manage your feelings. Try these suggestions:

Meditate and relax: Try imagining yourself on a calm, secluded beach, or your favorite place while listening to soothing music. Breathe slowly and pay attention to each breath. This activity can reduce stress and encourage tranquility.

Exercise: Ask your doctor or healthcare provider which exercises are appropriate for you. You may try walking, biking, yoga, or water aerobics.

Join a support group: Cancer support group meetings help you meet people facing the same challenges you are. During these meetings, you will discuss your feelings and listen to other members discuss their feelings too. This will help you learn how others cope with the side effects of radiation therapy, and also help you feel less alone in your plight. Ask your healthcare provider or social worker where to find a social group in your area. If you cannot travel or find a meeting nearby, there are also Internet support groups available.

Talk with others: Express your feelings to a close friend, family member, religious advisor, social worker, nurse, or psychologist. It may also be helpful to talk to someone who is also going through radiation therapy.

If you still feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts and emotions after trying these suggestions, talk to your doctor or nurse. He or she may suggest you take medicine to help cope with your feelings.

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