Radiation After Prostate Cancer Surgery Can Lead to a Cure

Men who are facing prostate removal to treat a positive cancer diagnosis may find their doctors recommending immediate radiation following the procedure. While this might seem like overkill considering the offending gland has been removed from the equation, new studies are shedding light on the reality that adjuvant radiation can add up to a more effective cure without dramatically increasing side effect risks.

The studies out of the University of Virginia School of Medicine were conducted to shed light on the side effect risks of using adjuvant versus salvage radiation to treat any remaining cancer cells following radical prostatectomy. While many urologists have held that salvage therapy (conducted months after surgery if PSA tests indicate a need) can lower side-effect risks, oncologists have maintained that immediate radiation (adjuvant) was the wiser approach. The problem was that no real facts backed up the arguments on either side when it comes to radiation-induced side effects.

Enter the studies. Researchers looked at the medical charts of 16,000 prostate cancer patients. What they found was that there was no real benefit in waiting for radiation to ensure all cancer cells have been eradicated following prostatectomy. They also discovered that immediate radiation does not increase risks for impotence or incontinence, two of the most disconcerting side-effects of treatment. Immediate radiation can, however, offer a protective effect that can increase chances that a recurrence will not present.

The bottom line, according to researchers, is that men who are undergoing treatment for prostate cancer should discuss their options with their doctors. The best strategy will depend on a man’s individual case. If there’s a low risk for recurrence, a delay might be reasonable. If there’s evidence to support the idea that cancer will return, immediate radiation could be the best course of action and may indeed lead to a cure by killing off cells that remain following prostatectomy.

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