Methods of Treating Prostate Cancer
Considering Alternative Prostate Cancer Treatments At Dedicated Prostate Cancer Clinics
Fighting cancer requires a life’s work of dedication and focus on getting the best results for patients. Dr. Gregory Echt founded the Prostate Seed Institute to provide the utmost in care for patients, including cutting edge radiation therapy protocols available in the United States. This prostate cancer clinic offers care that is on par with world-renowned treatment centers all over the globe.
Under Dr. Echt’s direction, the team at the Prostate Seed Institute has provided top-notch care to thousands of men. The approach taken to care for their patients is multifaceted and includes a variety of options, including prostate seed implant treatment (known as brachytherapy), high dose and external beam radiation, both with image-guided and intensity-modulated (known as IGRT and IMRT) capabilities respectively.
The battle against cancer expands far beyond just the patient. The patient’s entire family is intimately involved with all aspects of prostate cancer treatment, and this fact is recognized by Dr. Echt’s team. With this in mind, the team works diligently to create a cohesive treatment plan that offers the best chance to achieve a patient’s goals. With a big picture view, the plan takes into account multiple factors, including the stage of cancer, overall health, age and any extra concerns the patient has, including quality of life and possible side effects.
Prostate Cancer Treatment Options
Across the board, radiation therapy is one of the most common treatments for cancer, and prostate cancer is no exception. It is one of the best options for safely treating the disease. Radiation can accomplish a variety of goals, including curing cancer, halting or slowing the growth or simply symptom relief. The radiation therapy is effective because it prohibits the reproduction of cancer cells so that when cancer cells die, the body simply eliminates them. The regular cells of the body are able to recover, whereas the cancer cells cannot. There are multiple types of radiation therapy available that can be used for prostate cancer treatment.
Prostate Seed Implantation (Brachytherapy or Internal Radiation):
One of the cutting edge areas of treatment, brachytherapy has over a decade of research behind it showing its benefit as a highly effective treatment. In this protocol, small radioactive fragments, called seeds, are placed in the prostate cancer tumor region. As the seed breaks down, it releases radiation in exceptionally low doses. This process of disintegration takes several weeks and up to several months. After disintegration is completed, there are no traces of radioactive material left in the prostate. This procedure is highly precise, often sparing the worst of the side effects for surrounding tissues and organs. In addition, the process is minimally invasive and normally takes no longer than an hour, and the patient can resume regular activity in a few days. Prostate seeds implant treatment has been shown to be incredibly effective. Read More
High Dose Radiation Therapy (HDR or Temporary Brachytherapy):
One of the newer protocols of brachytherapy involves the same concepts with a few significant tweaks. The seeds in the HDR protocol only stay in place for less than an hour and shed a high level of radiation than conventional brachytherapy. Similar to the brachytherapy, HDR is an internal form of treatment. In this protocol, temporary seeds are again placed in the affected areas of the prostate. Unlike the normal prostate seed implant treatment, there is a higher level of radiation involved. In addition, a hospital stay is required as a template is fitted to the area that will be treated. An initial treatment of two or three batches of “seeds” is implanted and then the procedure is done again within a couple of weeks. This high dose of radiation offers a more intense treatment than traditional brachytherapy. Read More
External Beam Radiation:
A more intense and external form of radiation than either brachytherapy or HDR, external beam radiation is more time intensive. Generally, protocols revolve around a daily treatment at a radiation facility every weekday for about seven to eight weeks. The sessions are pain free, and only last a few minutes and directly target the prostate gland. At Dr. Echt’s prostate cancer clinic, the team utilizes intensity-modulation radiation therapy (IMRT), 3D conformal radiation therapy as well as image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT). All of these protocols match those found in prominent medical settings around the world and stay up to date with modern research. Read More
Combination Therapy of Seed Implant and External Beam Radiation Therapy:
Particularly used in more advanced cases of prostate cancer with a higher risk of spreading outside of the gland, a combination of both external beam radiation and seed implant. By utilizing these two protocols simultaneously, professionals hope to prevent the spread of the disease, as well as combat current symptoms.
Another treatment option, besides radiation, is hormonal therapy.
There is a non-radiation treatment option available, which is hormonal therapy. In cases with a particularly large tumor, hormonal therapy is started in conjunction with radiation and may continue for several years. The objective of hormonal therapy is to change the hormone balance that helps to slow or stop the growth or spread of cancer. Depending on the individual patient, this treatment can suppress, eliminate, or add different hormones, targeted toward this goal. Read More
Dr. Echt’s Prostate Cancer Clinic Offers Top-Notch Quality Assurance
In procedures as vital and complex as any of the radiation therapies listed above, quality assurance is absolutely vital. Before any treatment begins, a long process is completed to ensure that everything about the protocol goes smoothly.
A specialized and knowledgeable staff is required for each type of therapy. In addition, the equipment itself must be regularly maintained, with a schedule of inspections, updates, and calibrations. Each of these procedures ensure that the equipment remains safe and accurate. Every round of treatment is reviewed by specialized physicists, who also conduct testing on the equipment to perform quality assurance.
No matter what mechanism of treatment is selected, a team is involved, including a nurse, multiple radiation therapists, and a physicist. This is all in addition to overseeing physician. Every single team member is licensed by the state, which includes a rigorous process of continuing education and training. This keeps the entire team apprised of advancements and provides patients with the safest and most effective treatments possible.
Other Prostate Cancer Treatment Options
While brachytherapy is the fastest-growing prostate cancer treatment, it is far from the only option for treating. Dr. Echt and his team will be happy to review any of these options at the prostate cancer clinic.:
- Watchful waiting or active surveillance: While not technically a treatment, this is still an option for many patients. No immediate intervention is taken to address the tumor. This is only deemed advisable for cases that are deemed extremely low risk or for older patients unlikely to experience any negative effects. Frequency of monitoring is increased to make sure no adverse changes are seen in the tumor. This includes more frequent PSA tests, biopsies, and evaluation in the prostate cancer clinic. If negative progression is noted, further treatments will be recommended.
- Surgery: Surgery can be performed to attempt to remove a cancerous prostate gland. Generally, this is done via one of two techniques, either Radical Retropubic Prostatectomy (RRP) or Robotic Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy (RALP). With either technique, the prostate is completely removed. An RRP procedure is normally about 2 or 3 hours long, with a stay of about 3 days, because the surgeon makes an incision into the lower abdomen. RALP is a less invasive option, using five smaller incisions. While the procedure takes a little longer (about 3.5 hours), there is a shorter hospital stay required.
- Cryotherapy (aka Cryosurgery or Cryoablation): Normally an outpatient procedure (although not always), this treatment involves freezing any cancerous cells in the prostate. Performed under general or spinal anesthesia, probes are placed via incision and guided via transrectal ultrasound.
- High Intensity Focus Ultrasound (HIFU): Using the opposite concept as cryotherapy, this procedure uses ultrasound waves to increase the temperature of affected prostate tissue up to 195 degrees. The increase in temperature is short, only 2 or 3 seconds, with the aim of destroying the cancerous cells. This procedure is normally also advisable with localized cancer.
- Chemotherapy: The classic cancer treatment is also applicable to patients with prostate cancer. Drugs are utilized, either orally or intravenously, to help stop the growth of the cancer. Chemotherapy is a major ordeal for patients, so it is normally only utilized in instances where the cancer has spread or is particularly resistant to androgen deprivation. The procedure lasts several days, up to a week, with a rest period in between rounds of chemo, with multiple rounds normally being utilized for each patient, on a case by case basis.