Cancer of the prostate is more common than skin cancer and the most common tumor in men in the US.
There are almost 175,000 new cases and over 30,000 deaths from prostate cancer each year.
By the time men hit their mid-40s, 34% of them have evidence of prostate cancer.
By the time they celebrate their 80th birthday, about 70% of them will have prostate cancer. Prostate cancer decreases life expectancy by 9 years.
Radiation is often used to treat prostate cancer, and this report will focus on radiation guidelines, safety, survival rates, and alternatives for radiation that are feasible and studied in the literature.
Doctors have specific radiation guidelines for treating prostate cancer. For example, certain types of radiation are used at certain times for various stages of prostate cancer.
Is the cancer aggressive? Are there metastases?
One of the things that impact an oncologist’s decision on how to treat cancer is whether the cancer is aggressive or not. If it is growing quickly, the cancer is considered aggressive.
To a physician treating prostate cancer, the more aggressive the cancer is, the more aggressive the treat men will be. Watchful waiting will not work in cases of aggressive cancer.
One of the other things that doctors have to consider when treating prostate cancer is whether or not metastases are present in the patient.
Metastasis is the spread of cancer cells from their primary location (i.e. prostate) to any other site in the body (i.e. lung, liver, bones, etc.)
With prostate cancer, cancer cells often are likely to travel to nearby bones such as the ribs, pelvis, and femur. However, the cancer cells can also travel to any organs such as the rectum, bladder, lungs, GI tract, and anywhere else in the body, including the brain.
If metastasis has occurred, the cancer treatment may be extended to the entire body. This is called systemic therapy. In such a scenario, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or immunotherapy may be used.
If the metastasis has occurred, the cancer treatment may be more targeted to the local organ or area where cancer has spread.
This means that the doctor will focus on that area via surgery, radiation therapy, or other treatments. Removing the secondary site that is affected or applying radiation to the secondary location is the standard protocol.
According to cancer.net, the treatment for metastatic cancer of the prostate is most commonly not a cure but only a way to possibly slow down the progression.
What this means to you as a prostate cancer patient is that you must secure other methods that can actually get right into the body’s cells and restore them to normal.
For more information on metastatic cancer, click here.
How can radiation be used to help treat prostate cancer?
By using high-energy x-rays or other forms of ionizing radiation aimed at the prostate, cancer cells may be killed – or be prevented from reproducing.
Three primary types of radiation therapy may be used in prostate cancer treatments:
1. External radiation therapy
In this form of radiation therapy, a 3-D picture of the tumor/cancer is created by modern technology.
The image is used to confirm the radiation beams to match the tumor size and shape and ‘zap’ it from an x-ray machine outside the body. The advantage of this type of treatment is that healthy tissue surrounding the tumor is not damaged.
External radiation therapy is used in cases where prostate cancer has metastasized to the bone and for stage 1, 2, 3, or 4 prostate cancer, as well as for those who have had a radical prostatectomy, usually with the removal of lymph nodes.
External radiation therapy is also called proton beam radiation therapy. In this specific type of radiotherapy, streams of protons bombard cancer.
Clinical trials are showing uncertain effects on cancer outcomes. We will have to wait for more trials – but how much time do you have to wait?
2. Internal radiation therapy
When small radioactive needles, wired, seeds or catheters are placed inside the tumor or nearby; the radiation is guided by ultrasound or computerized tomography. The needles are inserted via the skin between the rectum and the scrotum and removed after the radioactive seeds are placed in those who have early-stage prostate cancer.
This treatment option is given for those who have Stage 1, 2, or 3 Prostate Cancer.
3. Hypofractionated radiation therapy
In this type of radiation therapy, more extensive than normal doses of radiation are given daily but for fewer days than standard radiation therapy.
Side effects tend to be worse than standard radiation therapy because of the higher dose with little time for recovery during the short treatment time.
There are two types of hypofractionated radiation therapy – standard fractionation or hypofractionation proton beam therapy.
In one study on this topic, 56 men received this type of treatment Follow-up was four years, and at that time, 25% of the men had suffered from a recurrence of the condition. This reoccurrence occurred around the 20-month mark after radiation treatment. Twenty-eight percent suffered from blood in the urine that persisted in 7% of study participants.
Studies on External and Internal Radiation for Prostate Cancer
In one study of over 2300 patients from 42 different institutions, doctors compared the results of internal radiation treatment (permanent iodine seed implantation) with those who may or may not have also received external radiation treatment. The study was a prospective cohort study.
Results were quite positive, showing a 94.9% biochemical freedom from failure (BFFF) rate in those who were low-risk prostate cancer patients. Biochemical freedom from failure rate means cleared from biochemical symptoms of the cancer.
Those patients who were in the intermediate-risk prostate cancer group had a BFFF of 92.7%, and those who were high-risk had a BFFF of 91.1%. With or without external beam radiation therapy, the outcomes were all very good.
In a study done by doctors at various institutions in Italy, Canada, and Germany, researchers examined the records of over 318,000 prostate cancer patients with no metastasis. They were looking for rectal or bladder cancer rates in the 55,000+ patients that also had received radiation seeds.
These types of cancer would be called secondary cancers because primary cancer – where the cancer first appeared – was in the prostate.
Twenty years after the surgery to treat the prostate, the rates for these other cancers were 6.0% in those patients that had the seeds compared to only 1.1% in patients with radical prostatectomy.
They concluded that the internal radiation treatment predominantly increases the risk of secondary bladder and to a lesser extent, rectal cancer and encouraged doctors to follow-up on their patients.
This is something to think about and consider one’s age at the time of prostate cancer diagnosis.
When is radiation therapy, the best option for treating prostate cancer?
Radiation therapy may be best for times when there is a rising PSA level, but when there are no detectable tumors on imaging, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
However, treatment options include active surveillance, surgery, or radiation therapy, which varies case by case.
Discussing your case with your physician is vitally important before just consenting with him on treatment. Writing out a detailed list of many questions is especially critical to the decisions you make during this time.
Risks and Benefits of Radiation for Prostate Cancer
Knowing the risks and benefits of a radiation therapy program for prostate cancer should be a vital part of your decision-making process for your treatment. Once again, it is essential to realize that you are not decision-less in this process.
While reviewing the risks, the most normal way to examine them is to put yourself in the position of someone who is receiving that risk.
If only 40% of prostate cancer patients receiving a certain type of radiotherapy end up with impotence, do not automatically count yourself amongst the 60% that escape it.
Face the fear head-on and ask yourself if that is a risk you really want to take. What would life be like without the ability to make love again?
What are the effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer?
External beam radiation treatment may be done in a hospital or as an outpatient visit. The treatment plan protocol usually involves multiple treatments over a few months.
Below is a list of the side effects of external beam radiation:
• bladder irritation, which means repeated trips to the bathroom.
• rectal irritation, which means repeated trips to the bathroom for feelings that you have to go when in reality, you don’t, and loose or irregular bowel movements at other times.
• urgency – this is the urgent feeling you have to go to the bathroom NOW. This feeling could come in the middle of an important meeting at work or with your family while driving while exercising with no bathroom in sight…
• weak urinary stream.
• nighttime trips to the bathroom, causing sleep disruption. (Just a reminder: Sleep is directly tied to your health status).
• pain in hips, back, chest, or other areas where metastases are.
• tiredness and fatigue.
The symptoms mentioned above are short-term that USUALLY resolve, but not always. The following are long-term side effects:
• urinary stricture / incontinence.
• inability to have an erection.
• rectal inflammation.
External beam radiation therapy is generally the type of treatment that brings encouraging results. Many long-term studies have shown good clinical outcomes.
Internal Radiotherapy (Seed radiation treatments) are particularly useful for those with early-stage prostate cancer that is slow-growing. In this type of treatment, it is performed in an actual operating room. You will be given anesthesia for it.
These are the side effects seen from seed radiotherapy, also known as brachytherapy:
• discomfort and/or bruising around the anal region.
• urinary frequency.
• urinary urgency.
• nighttime trips to the bathroom interfering with sleep.
• weak urinary stream.
These side effects take up to six months to dissipate. Below is a list of long-term side effects of seed radiation therapy:
• urinary strictures / incontinence.
• inability to have an erection.
• rectal inflammation.
What are the benefits of radiation for prostate cancer?
Cancer cells are susceptible to radiation; however, the most important thing to know is that the radiation does not completely kill all cancer cells. This means that they will still have a chance of recurrence of cancer. You may go into remission temporarily, and then the cancer could return.
If you are taking other steps – such as lifestyle changes and perhaps diet and supplement changes, it is entirely possible that you could potentially kill the remaining cancer stem cells.
Safety and effectiveness of radiation for Prostate Cancer
How safe is radiation therapy for prostate cancer patients?
Patients generally do not feel anything during the radiation treatments, but the effects of radiation accumulate over time. In the beginning, side effects are minimal, but then progressively mount up.
Medical experts report that “a single high dose of radiation that can be delivered to the tumor within a few minutes is a safe and effective technique for treating men with low-risk prostate cancer.”
This is what was recently published in the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology medical journal in April 2019.
The study discussed the effects of seed radiation treatment delivered by catheters directly into the prostate tumor and was comparing them to what happens with lower dose treatments.
After two years, 94% of the men had no relapse of cancer. By the end of three years, those in the high-risk cancer group had a success rate that dropped to 75%.
In the 27 men out of 441 men with prostate cancer whose PSA scores were raised, 15 men had the recurrence of cancer, and the remaining 12 had developed metastases.
The researchers concluded that this type of treatment – high dose rate brachytherapy is safe and effective for men with low-risk prostate cancer but not necessarily for those in the medium and high-risk category.
Metastatic Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer
Although radiation treatment may be considered safe and effective, there are times where it does not work at all.
When radiation treatment has side effects that are accumulating, do you still call it safe? When do the normal healthy cells suffer from radiation therapy used in the body for treatment?
For example, when do healthy cells receive mitochondrial damage or free radical/oxidative damage from the radiation? There are not any studies that have even looked at this.
Safety and effectiveness are really in the eyes of the beholder.
In prostate cancer treatment, often hormone therapy is used. This is where hormones that suppress the levels of testosterone in the body are given. The theory is that by suppressing the testosterone, which may fuel the prostate cancer cells, the cancer will recede.
Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer is the type of cancer that has already been treated by radiation or other means, yet it is stubborn enough not to go away. It is prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
Male hormones such as testosterone fuel the prostate cancer cells, but even when hormone therapy is taken to lower the man’s testosterone levels, the cancer may remain.
This is when the cancer is called metastatic castration-resistant. Standard treatment is to continue using the drugs that lower the man’s sex hormones, add chemotherapy if it’s indicated and/or other treatments.
It’s at this time when your oncologist may recommend that you check out clinical trials for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.
However, clinical trials are really set up for the clinicians and researchers, not so much for the patients.
The trials are merely testing new substances or ways of treating, and it is the roll of a dice. This may not be the type of risk you want to take.
Abiraterone acetate is a medication called Zytiga. It is used during the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. The medication stops the production of androgens. The drug prednisone is also given at the same time.
When a diagnosis progresses to the point of metastases, hospice care and palliative care may be right around the corner, unfortunately. However, this is from a medical point of view.
An alternative medicine/complementary care provider that treats this condition may have another outlook, as may a divine healer. There are many other options; this diagnosis means you have exhausted medical opinions.
How effective is radiation therapy against prostate cancer?
The best way to answer this question is to really to get opinions from the opposing sides of the controversy.
Ask medical professionals and radiation oncologists as well as doctors that would never decide to use forms of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
You will hear both sides of the issue, and it could open your mind to the true picture of what radiation is offering or not offering to prostate cancer patients.
What do the different stages of cancer signify?
When prostate cancer is diagnosed, then oncologists will stage the cancer. This means essentially giving the cancer a verdict as to how serious it is.
The staging is not arbitrary but created by the American Joint Committee on Cancer and called the AJCC TNM staging system.
In this system, the T stands for primary Tumor.
The N stands for whether or not the cancer has spread to nearby lymph Nodes.
The M stands for whether or not the cancer has spread to other locations in the body; M standing for Metastasis.
There may also be a PSA level at the time the diagnosis was made.
And a Grade Group is also assessed based on something called the Gleason score. This is an assessment of how aggressive the cancer is.
Without having to study this whole topic, if you know the most aggressive cancer staging and the least aggressive cancer staging, you can get a good foundation on the topic.
The most aggressive cancer staging would be Grade IV B. This cancer has spread to other places in the body, and it does not matter what the PSA level is.
The least aggressive cancer staging would be Grade 1 with a Gleason score of 6 or less and a PSA less than 10. In this stage, the cancer has not really formed into a tumor yet.
It hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body but was found on biopsy. In this stage, it may be felt by a digital exam. When it’s in one area, it’s called localized prostate cancer.
Natural alternatives to radiation for Prostate Cancer
How do you fight prostate cancer naturally?
Fighting cancer naturally is usually done in one of two ways:
1) by going to an alternative medicine specialist that works very specifically with cancer patients, especially prostate cancer
2) collecting research articles of what helps fight prostate cancer naturally and then incorporating these foods, supplements, and herbs into one’s diet.
Both methods involve regular active surveillance via lab indices, notably the PSA test to see whether or not the natural alternatives for prostate cancer are working or not.
Expecting one single food, one ingredient supplement or herb to work alone against prostate cancer is foolish, as cancer must be attacked from multiple angles in order to obtain total success in remission.
A comprehensive approach may also include hormone balance (sometimes hormone therapy) and additional lifestyle changes.
Fighting prostate cancer naturally has to also take into consideration whether or not there has to be remediation of side effects from prostate cancer treatments such as from radical prostatectomy, radiation, and/or chemotherapy.
Remember that radiation and chemotherapy may attack some cancer cells, but they are also killing one’s own body’s stem cells, which carry the capability to heal you.
Your natural treatment against cancer must consider this fact; otherwise, you will not address the root problems that still exist.
Your Environment is Also Something to Change
Additional methods for fighting prostate cancer may involve examining and correcting one’s environment for high doses of electromagnetic radiation, such as that from cell phone towers, wi-fi, dirty electricity, and G5 communication towers.
One natural healing physician, Dr. Klinghardt out of Seattle, WA speaking at health conventions frequently, states that his patients not only with cancer but also with every type of chronic degenerative illness are told to correct the environment first before they begin any other alternative treatments.
His conclusions have been verified with earlier epidemiological studies by Samuel Milham, M.D. and discussed in his book, Dirty Electricity: Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization.
What foods can help prevent prostate cancer?
It has been shown that nutrition plays a key role in the prevention of chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
One of the aspects that characterize a healthy diet is a high intake of vegetables and fruits, as both are flavonoid-rich foods.
Flavonoids are one of the main subclasses of dietary polyphenols and possess strong antioxidant activity and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Other bioactive food compounds modify the body on an epigenetic level, changing DNA methylation and chromatin remodeling inside the cells.
Diet is especially important. In one study increased consumption of sugars from sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
There was no association between prostate cancer risk and consumption of sugars from fruit juices or dessert foods.
Researchers are finding that high insulin levels can prevent prostate cancer kinase inhibitor drugs from working against the cancer.
The actual comprehensive list of foods that help prevent prostate cancer would fill up an entire page! New research is being published every week on the anti-cancer properties of different foods, supplements, and herbs.
Below is a list of some of the most commonly used foods to beat cancer:
1. Flax seeds
Flax seeds contain lignans that protect against hormone-dependent cancers such as prostate cancer. Flax seeds lower PSA levels and stops prostate cancer cells from reproducing.
2. Broccoli, Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts
Cruciferous vegetables contain several different phytonutrients that inhibit prostate cancer by regulating gene expression, preventing DNA damage, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, encouraging cancer cells to die (called apoptosis), and modulating cell signaling pathways.
The dosage for one of the active ingredients, called DIM (diindolylmethane) is suggested at only 14 mg for DIM. DIM was found in research studies to disrupt microbial interactions in the gut, altering the association between microbial networks and tumor development.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
When blood levels of the omega-3 fats are high, there’s a much lower risk of developing prostate cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA.
The EPA suppresses an enzyme that forms an inflammatory omega-6 fat in the body and simultaneously prevents cancer invasion and metastasis. Dosages suggested are up to 1000 mg DHA and 700-1400 mg EPA twice daily.
This root also acts in multiple ways to fight against prostate cancer. Curcumin does these five things:
1) impairs the ability of cancer cells to respond to testosterone by changing the expression of the testosterone receptors.
2) regulates inflammation in the body.
3) interferes with the ability of cancer cells to spread.
4) induces apoptosis.
5) inhibits cancer cell growth via a protein kinase enzyme.
Pomegranate interferes with prostate cancer cell reproduction by causing cancer cell death. It also downregulates certain genes that stimulate sex hormone receptors in prostate cells.
One of the active ingredients in pomegranate is called punicalagin.
Ginger contains active ingredients that interfere with cancer cell growth, cause cancer cell death, are anti-inflammatory, and have reduced tumor size in the prostate by 56% in only 8 weeks in animals.
7. Reishi mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms also called Ganoderma lucidum, contain medicinal ingredients that inhibit prostate cancer cell growth.
In one study of about 35,000 men between the ages of 50 and 76, men who consumed grapeseed supplements over ten years reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 62%. The active ingredients in the grapeseeds are polyphenols.
Supplements that have shown positive results against prostate cancer are many. Gone are the days when no one knew which supplements could potentially impact prostate cancer and/or other cancers in a positive way.
Here’s a list of some of them:
• Modified citrus pectin
• Vitamin E (gamma tocopherol)
• Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
• Vitamin K
Many herbs have anti-cancer action. For example, Magnolia plants contain a medicinal ingredient called honokiol, which is capable of efficiently preventing the growth of a wide variety of tumors such as prostate cancer.
This phytochemical can activate the factors that kill cancer cells, suppress anti-apoptotic proteins and different transcription factors, downregulate various enzymes, and inhibit the activity of protein kinases.
Supplement with More Than One Ingredient Helpful
In December 2013, Life Extension Magazine published results of one placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of men with treatment-refractory prostate cancer with a natural supplement.
The supplement was composed of pomegranate seed, broccoli, green tea, and turmeric.
Anti-cancer properties are found in every one of these four ingredients. The men with prostate cancer were only required to take two capsules a day.
Over the six months, they took the supplements, PSA levels increased only 14.7% compared to 78.5% in the placebo group.
In almost half of the supplement patients, their PSA levels remained stable or dropped. The overall results were a 63.8% average reduction in the PSA test results.
Another study showed that supplements could play an important role in the significant reduction of nausea, insomnia, depression, anxiety, fatigue, hot flashes, joint pain, neuropathy, and all symptoms, including the severity of the radiation burn or dermatitis. Thus, the improvement of quality of life can be quite dramatic.
What are the alternative treatments for prostate cancer?
Natural alternatives to radiation for prostate cancer involve diet changes, supplements, lifestyle changes, and IVs of different nutrients. They can include changing the environment.
Moreover, they can involve whole protocols that alternative/complementary health practitioners have put together to make significant differences in the cancer that is growing in the body.
When the whole environment of the body is made unfriendly to cancer cells to grow, then it simply won’t grow.
The sad part is that by using radiation treatments for cancer, you are not making the whole body environment unfriendly to cancer cells. By ignoring the cellular needs for nourishment and strength, you allow cancer to grow.
Radiation treatment is one of the standard treatments for prostate cancer. It may help in certain early stages of cancer, but we cannot ignore the fact that cancer stem cells are not addressed with this treatment.
Going to the root of the cause instead of simply playing around with “this may help” or “that may help” is what is needed for the healing of the cancer.
Nutrients and diet play a big role in preventing and reversing cancer. However, this approach must not be haphazardly initiated by using one little supplement here and there.
You need a whole approach that would include diet changes as well as the addition of supplements that specifically have been shown to cause positive changes for cancer patients.
Prostate cancer doesn’t have to be the end of you. It can be the start of a brand new healthy you plus a very much increased quality of life.