Treatment protocols for prostate cancer patients who undergo radical prostatectomies may soon change. Two new studies have infused hard evidence into a long-standing dispute over whether it is better to delay radiation after surgery or not. As it turned out, delaying radiation treatments did not have major positive impacts on the likelihood of side effects from treatment arising.
It has been a long-held belief that holding off on radiation after a prostatectomy might prevent side effects, such as erectile dysfunction, from occurring. The two studies found that simply wasn’t the case. A slight increase in the risk for GI complications was noted, but no marked increase in erectile dysfunction was evidenced.
Those findings, researchers say, support the idea that delaying radiation provides no real benefit. What’s more, many other studies have shown that earlier radiation tends to be more effective. Considering the findings, researchers are recommending that clinicians consider administering radiation treatments sooner rather than later after surgery. Patients at the lowest risk for recurrence, however, may not need to undergo radiation at all, they noted.
Prostate cancer strikes an estimated 180,000 American men each year. The disease is responsible for an estimated 26,000 deaths annually in the United States alone. Men age 50 and older are at the highest risk for this disease’s development. With that in mind, it is recommended that all men speak with their healthcare providers about early screening tests as they begin to age. Annual exams are recommended to catch this cancer in its earliest, most treatable phase.
Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer should speak to their doctors about all treatment options, their potential benefits and risks. Radical prostatectomies are not recommended in every case. Other treatment options range from merely monitoring the disease to external beam radiation and brachytherapy. The best treatment recommendation will come from a doctor with knowledge of a man’s particular case.