Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that affects the prostate gland. The prostate is a small gland that is shaped like a walnut and is found in men’s pelvis. It is found next to the bladder and professionals examine it by doing a rectal exam.
One of the ways to treat prostate cancer is by using radiation therapy. Radiation therapy destroys cancerous cells, but it is also possible for the process to destroy normal cells. Here we will take a look at what to expect after radiation treatment for prostate cancer.
Radiation Treatment For Prostate Cancer
Radiation treatment has many side effects. In most cases, these side effects start to take effect a few weeks after treatment has started. It is also worth noting that the side effects can be very unpleasant. However, one brighter side, some treatments can help reduce the effects of the symptoms. There are two types of side effects, short term side effects, and long term side effects.
Short Terms Side Effects
Any prostate cancer patient who receives radiotherapy treatment whether it is brachytherapy or external beam can develop side effects. The side effects that start a few weeks into the radiotherapy treatment are short term side effects.
Short term effects affect each patient differently. You might not have these problems, but it is good to consult with your doctor as soon as you start treatment. Here are some common short term side effects.
This is a common side effect among radiation treatment patients. In most cases, the skin becomes red, sensitive, dry, and irritated. If you are in radiotherapy treatment and you notice that your skin appears like it has sunburn signs, then know that it’s a side effect from the treatment.
You can overcome the problem through gentle skin treatment and bathing carefully using mild soap and warm water. It is strongly advised not to use scented soaps or lotions because they can increase the irritation.
Loss Of Pubic Hair
As soon as you start radiotherapy treatment, you will lose hair in your pubic areas. Hair will start to grow again when you are already more than a month in the treatment. However, it is worth noting that the pubic hair might not grow back as it once was before treatment started. Therefore, be ready to face this fact.
In almost all people who go through radiation treatment, fatigue is a common short term side effect. It begins within a few weeks in treatment, but it goes away after a few months in the treatment program.
Irritation In The Urinary Tract And Rectal Tissues
Prostate cancer radiation treatment can cause changes in urine and bowel movement habits. The symptoms are short-lived and you will be back to your normal self after a few weeks of completing the treatment. It is advisable to take a lot of fluids.
Long Term Effects
Long term effects of radiation treatment for prostate cancer take place months or years after the treatment has ended. The risks associated with late side effects are dependent on radiation techniques and fields of radiation. Here is what to expect after radiation treatment for prostate cancer in the long term.
One of the most serious long term side effects of radiation treatment is infertility. It is advisable to consult with your oncologist and discuss sperm banking to ensure your prospects of having children in the future are safe.
Problems With Your Bladder
Nor being able to hold your urine is one of the worst long term side effects of radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Other problems include hemorrhagic cystitis which leads to bloody urine, UTI or urinary tract infections and even bladder cancer. Therefore, if you start having problems when passing urine, you should contact your doctor.
After radiation treatment has ended, you can have dry orgasms or erectile dysfunction. It is possible to get help and overcome these problems. If you are married, you can arrange for a couple’s therapy session so that you can get through these problems together as a couple.
Although the risk is low, there are chances of developing secondary cancers in areas that were affected by the radiation treatment. The main cause of secondary cancers is the exposure of healthy tissues to radiation treatment. However, it is assuring to know that technology has developed the treatment techniques such that only the affected areas are exposed to the radiation.
Many people do not know what to expect after radiation treatment for prostate cancer but the points listed above can give you a clue. It is also possible for you not to show any side effects at all. However, if you show the symptoms, talk to your oncologist to help you manage the side effects.