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Prostate Cancer Treatment Advancements Improve Survivorship

One in six men will face a prostate cancer diagnosis in his lifetime, totaling to 240,000 new cases this year as estimated by the American Cancer Society. Fortunately, advancements in cancer treatment have allowed nearly eight times as many men to count themselves as survivors of the pervasive disease.

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and Oklahoma CyberKnife encourages men seeking prostate cancer treatment to educate themselves on the range of options available to treat the disease.

“Advancements made in prostate cancer treatment have given patients the ability to take control of their diagnosis,” said Dr. Diane Heaton, Oklahoma CyberKnife medical director. “Choosing which treatment approach is most appropriate for your specific case and best suits your lifestyle is pivotal not only for the long term outcome of treatment, but also your quality of life.”


Prostate cancer is the single most diagnosed cancer in men, and typically doesn’t exhibit symptoms in the early stages. If it reaches an advanced stage, prostate cancer can spread to surrounding bones causing pain. Once detected, treatment for prostate cancer can include surgery, external beam radiation therapy, brachytherapy or stereotactic body radiation therapy. However, some patients choose to forgo treatment and follow a “watchful waiting” approach instead.

Prostate cancer surgery, or radical prostatectomy, is a standard treatment that involves removing the entire prostate gland and in some cases, surrounding tissue. External-beam radiation therapy involves treatment courses that usually are delivered five days a week over a period of seven to eight weeks. With brachytherapy, doctors insert small radioactive “seeds” or metal pellets into the prostate. The seeds are inserted with a needle, and over the course of several months, radiation is emitted to the surrounding area to kill the cancer cells.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy for prostate cancer is a newer, noninvasive treatment option and is performed with highly advanced radiosurgical technology. CyberKnife is a robotic radiosurgical system that delivers a unique form of stereotactic body radiation therapy. It tracks the motion of the prostate during treatment and automatically corrects the aim of the radiation beam when movement is detected. This means radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue is minimized.

In recent years, advanced treatment options like CyberKnife have gained awareness among prostate cancer patients in particular. Many men are drawn to the convenience of shorter treatment and fewer side effects. Treatments are complete within five or fewer sessions versus about 40 treatments typically required with conventional radiation therapy.

“CyberKnife offers prostate cancer patients a noninvsaive treatment option that doesn’t impede on their lifestyle,” said Dr. Heaton. “It gives patients the benefit of a more rapid recovery, allowing them to return to their normal routines following each procedure.”

Recent five-year clinical data has proven the efficacy of CyberKnife treatment with outcomes comparable to five-year outcomes for other prostate cancer treatments, including surgery and conventional radiation therapy. According to the results of a multi-center study, 93 percent of low-risk prostate cancer patients treated with the CyberKnife had no recurrence of their cancer five years later. Moreover, the study confirmed that CyberKnife’s ability to spare healthy tissue reduces side effects associated with some other prostate cancer treatments. Click here to read the full study.

In addition to treating prostate cancer, Oklahoma CyberKnife treats malignant and benign tumors in the brain, spine, lung, liver, pancreas, kidney and eye. CyberKnife may not be appropriate for all prostate cancer patients, and men are encouraged to consult with their doctor on the best course of treatment for their individual diagnosis.

For more presentations by Oklahoma CyberKnife, click here.