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National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is observed every September in the United States by health experts, advocates, and individuals concerned with men’s prostate health.  Designating a month for the disease serves the purpose of increasing public awareness of the importance of prostate health and screenings, educating about risk factors and symptoms, and advocating for further research on prostate health issues.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, with about one in eight men being diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.  The ACS estimates that there will be over 11,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in Pennsylvania in 2021.

There are several risk factors associated with prostate cancer, including family history, race, diet, etc., but the most common factor is age. Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men.  About six in ten cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40.  The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.

While there are a lot of risk factors for prostate cancer, there are also good survival statistics associated with the disease.  Survival rates for prostate cancer are very high.  According to statistics from the National Institute of Health, 3.1 million men are estimated to be living with prostate cancer in the United States.

At the Cancer Treatment Center at Hazelton, we use radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer.  Radiation therapy is used to treat prostate cancer painlessly and noninvasively.  During treatment, high-energy X-rays are delivered to the prostate cancer safely and effectively.  Side effects are usually minimal, and most patients return to their normal activities following each treatment.

There are two types of radiation therapy for prostate cancer.  External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is administered with a linear accelerator (LINAC) that generates an X-ray beam.  The treatment is safe and will not burn or hurt you.  EBRT destroys cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.  A second treatment option for prostate cancer is brachytherapy, a type of internal radiation therapy in which a radiation oncologist inserts high-energy radioactive seeds into the prostate.  The seeds emit radiation to the immediate surrounding cancer cells over several months but will not make your body radioactive.  After about a year, the radioactive material degrades and the seeds that remain are harmless.

Radiation therapy serves as an effective treatment for prostate cancer, working within cancer cells to damage their ability to multiply and spread.  External radiation therapy treatments, such as EBRT, are delivered daily Monday through Friday and each treatment session only takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

Several factors determine candidacy for radiation therapy treatment including the stage of the cancer, potential side effects, age, and overall health.  Sometimes a combination of treatments is the best plan for treating prostate cancer.

Before you make your final decision about your prostate cancer treatment, consider radiation therapy.  It is best to know all your treatment options and it never hurts to get a second opinion.  For more information about how the Cancer Treatment Center at Hazleton treats prostate cancer, please feel free to give us a call today at (570) 459-3460.