Your Treatment Options
After Prostate Radiation – What to Expect
Completing prostate cancer radiation is a major milestone in your prostate cancer journey. As you move into the recovery phase, it's essential to understand what to expect after completing treatment.
Immediately After Prostate Radiation:
Following prostate radiation treatment, you may experience mild fatigue, which is normal and typically subsides within a few weeks. You may also notice some urinary changes, such as increased frequency or urgency, and temporary bowel changes. These short-term side effects are part of your body’s natural response to radiation and typically improve over time. It’s crucial to rest, hydrate well, and follow your doctor’s recommendations for optimal recovery.
Weeks After Prostate Radiation:
In the weeks after prostate radiation treatment, you may continue to experience some urinary and bowel changes. These side effects vary for every individual but tend to gradually improve. It's important to communicate with your treatment team and report any persistent or concerning symptoms. They can provide guidance and support to address specific issues you may be facing during this phase.
Long-Term Effects of Prostate Radiation:
Over time, many prostate cancer patients experience significant improvement in urinary and bowel function after prostate radiation treatment. Advances in modern radiation technology have significantly enhanced treatment accuracy, reducing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue, resulting in a lower risk of long-term side effects.
Prevention and Management of Radiation Side Effects:
To further minimize side effects, your doctor may recommend a rectal spacer, such as Barrigel, prior to radiation treatment. A rectal spacer creates distance between the prostate and the rectum, reducing radiation exposure to the rectal wall and minimizing potential rectal side effects.
In addition, your doctor can prescribe medications or recommend lifestyle modifications to manage specific side effects. These may include dietary recommendations, exercise plans, and medications to alleviate urinary or bowel symptoms. Maintaining open communication with your treatment team can help ensure that your concerns are addressed promptly and effectively.
After completing prostate radiation treatment, it’s normal to have questions and concerns about what to expect during the recovery phase. By understanding the typical immediate, short-term, and long-term effects of radiation therapy, as well as the preventive measures and management strategies available, you can approach your recovery with confidence and work with your doctor to ensure your questions are answered.
For recommendations on how to discuss your treatment plan with your doctor, you can download and/or print this prostate radiation doctor discussion guide and bring it with you to your next appointment. The guide includes suggested questions to ask your doctor about your prognosis, treatment options and treatment plan throughout the different stages of your journey.