From an interview with
Dr. T. Rhett Spencer
McLeod Radiation Oncology
Advancements in prostate cancer treatment offer patients significantly better options. Michael Walters of Fairmont, North Carolina, has benefitted from this first-hand. He became a prostate cancer survivor after only five treatments, compared to more than 25 treatments with conventional therapies.
Michael received care at the McLeod Center for Cancer Treatment and Research in Florence, South Carolina, using stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). His urologist had been monitoring his PSA level for two and a half years, which is not uncommon with prostate cancer. Since the condition tends to grow slowly in older men, it is often monitored closely with physician visits one or two times each year.
A protein produced by both cancerous and non-cancerous tissue in the prostate, the PSA test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in the blood. A normal PSA level for men in their 60s is zero to 4.5. Michael’s PSA level was at 9. A biopsy detected cancer in two spots in his prostate, confirming the need for treatment.
Treatment of prostate cancer typically involves surgery or radiation. Michael was informed that his cancer could best be treated with radiation. After meeting with McLeod Radiation Oncologist Dr. T. Rhett Spencer, he learned he met the criteria for SBRT and would only need five treatments to eradicate the cancer.
“In conventional radiation treatment, we are able to precisely deliver the dose of radiation directly to the prostate, minimizing harm to the surrounding organs including the bladder, the rectum, the femoral heads and the small bowel. In addition, this therapy has been shown to be beneficial in reducing long-term side effects of prostate cancer,” says Dr. Spencer. “However, advancements in technology, treatment planning and imaging have led to new innovations in radiation treatment, such as extreme hypofractionated radiation therapy, or SBRT, for localized prostate cancer, which we offer at McLeod.”
SBRT involves delivering the radiation dose in larger, more powerful portions over fewer treatment visits. It also offers the same survival risk of toxicity as traditional radiation. Yet, the amount of time a patient needs to undergo treatment is considerably shorter – from 40 days with conventional treatment to 5 days with SBRT. This allows the patient to retain their quality of life.
SBRT is most suited for men with low to intermediate risk – meaning, the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or outside the prostate.
“There is no single treatment option that is better for all men,” says Dr. Spencer. “The most appropriate treatment for prostate cancer should be based on the man’s age, life expectancy, and other medical problems, as well as the stage and aggressive nature of the cancer.”
To learn more, speak with a radiation oncologist near you.