World renowned robotic prostate surgeon, Dr. David Samadi, urges men to do their research, and weigh their options, before getting treated for prostate cancer. A new review study has found that men with prostate cancer who opt for radiation therapy have a higher risk of developing secondary cancers.
This research was led by scientists at the University of Toronto, and findings were published in BMJ. This systematic review of 21 studies found that although the absolute rates of secondary cancers were low, prostate cancer patients receiving radiation therapy had a higher risk of bladder, rectal, and colon cancers. The studies reviewed patients who were treated with commonly used forms of radiation. The type of radiation therapy also affected the risk of secondary cancer. For example, external team radiotherapy was regularly associated with an increased risk of secondary cancer, while brachytherapy was not.
For example, statistics show that about a third of radiation patients develop acute symptoms of proctitis or cystitis, and about 5-10% develop permanent bowel, bladder, and urethral function disorders. Similarly, about half of patients that receive radiation treatment for prostate cancer develop erectile dysfunction. Numerous studies prior to this meta-analysis, also show increased risk of secondary bladder and rectal malignancies. One study comparing the risk of metastasis among surgical and radiation patients, found that men had a 65% lower risk of metastasis when opting for surgical intervention over radiation.
Prostatectomy is the only option which removes the entire prostate, and therefore allows for more accurate staging and grading. This means your doctor can create a better long term plan of care for each individual patient. Furthermore, quality of life tends to improve over time rather than get worse – which you can often see in radiation patients. The most important aspect however, is that radiation is still possible as a secondary treatment after surgery. So patients have yet another way of combating their cancer if necessary. Surgery after radiation poses a major challenge, and for the majority of patients is not a viable option.
Dr. Samadi says that, “Through surgery, specifically robotic prostatectomy, my goal has always been to extend quality of life as well as longevity for my patients.” Studies such as this bolster confidence patients have in this treatment option, and give them the information they need to choose the best long term treatment option for themselves – along with the guidance of their physicians of course.Health articles