Post-Prostatectomy Radiation: Is It Necessary?

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer may find their best bet to beat the disease is to have this gland removed entirely. After all, when the tumor site is removed, most worries melt away. That’s not always the case, however. Stray cells can linger behind after surgery, creating new problems down the road. This is why it is sometimes recommended that men undergo radiation following prostatectomy to help ensure none of those stray cells remain behind.

Concerns about radiation therapy and its possible side effects have led some men and their doctors to shy away from this more aggressive secondary step. Researchers are finding, however, that Image-Guided Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IG-IMRT) can have a tremendous impact on cancer while helping men potentially avoid many of the more unsavory side effects of prostate cancer treatment. IG-IMRT is a highly targeted form of radiation that protects nearby healthy tissue courtesy of its precision. The end result is irradiation of the tumor site area and the sparing of other tissues.

To look more deeply at the benefits of IG-IMRT, researchers recently completed a study involving 68 men. These men were treated with RT or ART. The median age of the group was 59.8 years. At the end of the study, researchers found a low five-year incidence rate for side effects, such as gastrointestinal and sexual concerns. They also found an overall relapse-free rate of 72.7 percent.

While researchers acknowledged their study group was relative small, their findings shed light on the benefits of post-prostatectomy radiotherapy. More study on the topic is likely as radiation methods continue to become more precise.

Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer should carefully review all treatment options with their healthcare providers. When indicated, prostatectomy procedures can greatly lower morbidity risks. When followed with radiation, concerns about relapse can often be reduced greatly, as well.

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