Comparison showing the area of the body affected by radiation using Conventional Radiotherapy (First Image) and Pencil Beam Proton Therapy (second image). Find out more by visiting our comparison page.
Over 40,000 men in the U.K. are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year
Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the U.K, with one man dying from the disease each hour. Statistics show 1 in 8 men will get the disease at some point in their lives and 25% of those men will die as a direct result of the prostate cancer.
What is the prostate?
According to a survey done by Prostate Cancer U.K. – over 70% of men aged 45 and over knew nothing about their prostate or the symptoms of prostate cancer.
The prostate is a walnut sized gland located between the penis and the bladder, just in front of the rectum. Its main function is to secrete the fluid that nourishes and protects sperm and is expelled with sperm during ejaculation as semen.
As men get older, the prostate often gets larger, increasing the chances of prostate cancer. Statistics have shown many men over the age of 70 within the U.K have prostate cancer although many won’t get diagnosed or show any symptoms. Prostate cancer is often not diagnosed, as men aren’t always educated about the dangers and in 80% of cases this can be a slow growing cancer that doesn’t show any kind of symptoms or problems and leaves people at risk of the cancer spreading.
What symptoms do I look out for?
Not all men will get symptoms, but if they’re concerned or have a family history make sure you refer them for tests. There is no current screening programme to detect this cancer, however there’s a blood test readily available on the NHS to test their PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) score which detects signs of prostate cancer.
When symptoms do present themselves, the signs to look out for are:
- Needing to urinate more often, especially at night
- Pain when urinating
- Difficulty passing urine
- Blood in urine
- Feeling like you’ve not emptied your bladder properly after going to the toilet
- Straining to urinate or taking a long time to pass urine
Problems during or after sex
- Pain during or after sex
- Problems with maintaining or getting an erection
- Blood in semen
- Pain in lower back
- Problems with bowels
Many men refuse testing or treatment for prostate cancer, this is due to the side-effects related to cancer treatments, but delaying testing will result in harder to treat cancer. Make sure your patient knows all there is to know about various treatments and side-effects before they choose a treatment.
The most important aspect of treating prostate cancer is to destroy the cancer cells without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue. The prostate is located between the penis and bladder. With pencil point accuracy, proton therapy can reduce the risk of any complications or long-term side effects, improving and retaining a man’s quality of life.
Benefits of Proton Therapy
- Reduced risk of incontinence
Radiation to the bladder and surrounding areas can cause incontinence, erectile dysfunction etc. Proton therapy limits the radiation to the tumour itself, increasing the chances of avoiding urinary complications such as involuntary leakage
- Reduced risk of erectile dysfunction
Surgery for prostate cancer can result in erectile dysfunction, which is one of the most common side effects: see our comparison page. Due to proton therapy’s targeted approach, studies have found that patients who’ve had proton therapy have a significantly reduced risk of impotence, with 94% of men reporting that they remain sexually active.
- Fewer gastrointestinal side effects
Multiple studies have found that proton therapy reduces the risk of gastrointestinal side effects in comparison with IMRT and other radiation techniques. This is because proton therapy decreases the radiation dose to gastrointestinal structures by at least 59% compared to X-rays used during radiotherapy.
- Painless, with reduced recovery time
Proton therapy is a relatively painless, non-invasive outpatient procedure. It does not require recovery time and has little or no impact on a patient’s energy levels.
Factors preventing Proton Therapy
- Having a pacemaker
- Metal hip replacement implants
- Evidence that cancer has spread