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New radiation therapy is changing the game for Prostate Cancer treatment

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 1:45 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - When it comes to cancer, there’s one category that may not get as much attention as other forms of the disease

September is prostate cancer awareness month, and while it’s the second leading cause of death in American men, it’s not the most talked about.

“If you look at population studies in the U.S, about 13 out of 100 will have prostate cancer in their lifetime, and 2 to 3 men are going to die from prostate cancer.”

Lexington Medical Center Urologist, Dr. David Lamb, says that’s just cases that are diagnosed. There’s a large population of men who may have prostate cancer, and never know it

Unlike other cancers where early problems can be easy to detect, prostate cancer symptoms aren’t as clear.

“The primary determinant is age, as men get older they’ll have a much higher instance of that. It’s one of those diseases that doesn’t have many signs and symptoms. So we have to look a populations where its common and screen patients,” says Lamb.

While prostate cancer is more likely to develop in men 65 and older, African American men are most at risk. The American Cancer Society reported that the number of new cases diagnosed in black men is nearly 80% higher than the number of new cases diagnosed in white men.

Well now, thanks to a new radiation therapy, early diagnoses of milder cases of prostate cancer can now be treated sooner

“Where we want to make an impact is diagnose lethal prostate cancer, being cancer that can kill people.” And we want to do that with the least impact we can.”

Brachytherapy, or seed implants is a new form of internal radiation and is what doctors are calling a minimally invasive approach to prostate cancer treatment

“If you look at radiation, the problem with using external beam radiation therapy is that there’s a time commitment to it. And it really involves several months of treatment on a small dose given daily. The idea behind brachytherapy is that were able to compact that into one session.”

Dr. Lamb says the one day procedure takes about an hour to conduct.

So how exactly does it work?

Lexington Medical Oncologist, Dr. Quillin Davis says he’s been successful with hundreds of brachytherapy procedures.

“We use an ultrasound to place iodine 125 radioactive seeds into the prostate. Each one of those seeds, if you were to click out the lead of a mechanical pencil and break off little pieces of it, that’s about the size of those radioactive seeds,” says Davis.

Anywhere from 40 to 100 seeds are commonly implanted, which remain in place permanently

And Dr. Davis says his team sees an 80 to 85 percent chance of curing prostate cancer with brachytherapy---and, side effects after treatment are minimal

“Seed implant radiation treatment is always at or above the other modalities in terms of the quality of life that patients have after treatment,” says Davis.

But the treatment isn’t for everyone, for more severe diagnoses, surgery may be the better option.

Davis says the key is for the patient with prostate cancer to make an educated choice that they feel is the right treatment for them.

“We really screen out patients that do well with this, some patients it doesn’t fit real well in their treatment, so we choose the right patients and we do a lot of them and I think it’s the reason for our success.”

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