The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder and in front of the rectum and is part of the male reproductive system. It surrounds part of the urethra, the tube that allows men to pass urine but also helps make semen, which carries sperm from the testicles through the penis during ejaculation.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men, affecting about one in six men in the United States. A diagnosis of prostate cancer can be scary not only because it can be life-threatening, but also because treatments can cause side effects such as bladder control problems and erectile dysfunction (impotence). But major advancements in recent years have made for earlier diagnosis and better treatment outcomes for prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer usually grows slowly and initially remains confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. While some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or no treatment, other types are more aggressive and can spread quickly.
In many men, there are often no early prostate cancer symptoms, but some men have urinary symptoms and discomfort. Prostate cancer treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, cryotherapy (freezing), hormonal therapy, and/or radiation. In some instances, doctors recommend "watchful waiting."
Recent clinical trials using CyberKnife to treat prostate cancer have found that CyberKnife may be as effective as standard radiation treatment for destroying the cancer if the tumor size is below 100 ml, the Gleason score is less than 7 and the PSA is lower than 10. Preliminary results 2-3 years after treatment with CyberKnife show reduced PSA with little or no side effects. Dr. Shirnett Williamson, medical director of Radiation Oncology and CyberKnife at Capital Health has found similar results after treating patients with CyberKnife over the past two years. This is important to note as CyberKnife offers patients added convenience over standard radiation treatments.
Traditional radiation therapy for prostate cancer is typically administered five days a week, Monday through Friday, for about six to eight weeks, with each session lasting about 15 minutes.
Since CyberKnife uses higher doses of radiation for each treatment session, a patient will only need one to five treatments, each lasting about one hour.
In addition, there is no recovery time like there is with surgery, or radical prostatectomy. Almost all patients that have CyberKnife for prostate cancer can continue on with normal day-to-day activities with no problems at all.
The only caution that our physicians indicate is that the research studies with CyberKnife have not yet been performed over an extended period of time. Therefore, long-term CyberKnife side effects are not yet known.
What Happens During the Planning and Treatment Process for Prostate Cancer Using CyberKnife?
The CyberKnife System at Capital Health involves a team approach to treat your prostate cancer. This team involves several specialists who participate in the preparation, treatment and follow-ups during the process. A team usually includes:
- a urologist,
- a radiation oncologist,
- a medical physicist,
- a radiation therapist, and
- medical support staff (e.g., nurse, nutritionist, etc.)