Fitness and Prostate Cancer Treatment
Men with prostate cancer should be treated based on their health status, not their age, according to the International Society of Geriatric Oncology. Updated guidelines suggest, “Elderly patients who are frail or who have multiple health conditions may not be able to handle aggressive cancer treatment, but aggressive treatment may be the best course for healthier older patients”.
Similarly, Chicago Prostate Cancer Center always considers not only a man’s age, but also a wide range of health status markers when defining potential treatment options for each prostate cancer patient. Considerations include activity level, nutritional condition, body mass, mobility and cognition level (for an indication of independence and decision-making capabilities), in the context of each patient’s prostate cancer diagnosis, concurrent illnesses and medications.
Hormone Therapy for Older Men
Traditionally, many older men with early stage or advanced prostate cancer (or men in poor overall health who were not candidates for surgery or radiation) have been treated with hormone therapy, a less aggressive type of treatment. Hormone therapy can be prescribed in many ways, and is designed either to reduce the level of male hormone production (such as testosterone) in the body, or to block cancer cells from using testosterone needed for growth.
However, recent studies have demonstrated that in some men, hormone therapy can lead to loss of energy and depression, while adding to potential risk factors for other disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, or stroke.
Seed Implant: Refined for Older Men
At CPCC we find that many older patients fare much better with low dose rate prostate brachytherapy (or seed implant) than with hormone therapy. In seed implants, radiation sources the size of a grain of rice are placed directly into the prostate gland to stop the growth of cancer cells.
Recent developments in seed implant technique are particularly effective for use in older patients. Based largely on research conducted with Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago, CPCC continually advances LDR prostate brachytherapy treatment, and provides more seed implants than any other medical center in the world. CPCC has refined techniques for focal implants (that only treat one side of the gland) or dose painted implants (which treat the entire prostate but with seeds at a lower dose of radiation).
More Benefits of Seed Implant
Most generally healthy men at any age can readily tolerate seed implant for prostate cancer. Older patients benefit from anesthesia used in LDR prostate brachytherapy, which is non-narcotic and short-acting, allowing patients to wake more quickly without the confusion and discomfort of more typical general anesthesia.
Seed implant can be an especially practical treatment option for consideration by older patients with prostate cancer. Men who would otherwise find it difficult to mobilize transportation for up to 30 rounds required for external beam radiation, benefit from the convenience of one-time seed implant procedure. Similarly, older men whose health status precludes prostate removal due to risks and recovery from surgery with full general anesthesia can be successfully treated for prostate cancer with seed implants.
For more information on prostate cancer or to schedule a consultation, contact CPCC at 630-654-2515.