As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many cancer patients are having to make the difficult decision to continue with their current cancer regimen or delay treatments. Cancer patients and physicians must carefully weigh the potential benefit of routine cancer care versus the risk of COVID-19.
To help ease these decisions, several peer-reviewed, non-profit cancer care organizations like the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) have recognized the rapidly changing oncology information relating to COVID-19 and have established forums for sharing best practices and specific institutional responses, as well as continue to release updated clinical guidelines in regards to cancer treatment during COVID-19.
This news is especially helpful for prostate patients, as the NCCN recommends that prostate patients receiving radiation therapy for their cancer to continue with treatment, but the shortest (5 to 7 fractions) safe external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) regimen should be used. This guideline is also supported by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the premier radiation oncology society in the world consisting of more than 10,000 members who are physicians, nurses, biologists, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. ASTRO’s current guidelines state that hypofractionation has been demonstrated to be equally effective as standard conventional courses of radiation therapy in specific clinical situations, including prostate cancer.
Using hypofractionation, or hypofractionated radiation therapy, higher doses of radiation are delivered per treatment, so patients can complete their course of radiation therapy much faster than conventional treatment. Hypofractionation allows larger-dose radiation fractions to be delivered in fewer sessions, with the total dose completed in 5 weeks or less vs up to 9 weeks with conventional radiation dose-fractionation schedules. Ultrahypofractionation (stereotactic body radiation therapy [SBRT] or stereotactic ablative radiotherapy [SABR]) can involve 5 radiation sessions.
At Illinois CyberKnife, hypofractionation is delivered on the CyberKnife, a painless, nonsurgical prostate cancer treatment technology in which high-dose radiation is delivered to the tumor from a linear accelerator mounted on a highly maneuverable robotic arm. Hundreds of different angles enable the radiation to be contoured to the shape of the prostate, resulting in treatment aimed directly to the prostate gland, avoiding nearby critical anatomy. It can shave weeks off the traditional treatment length with the possibility of fewer short term side effects and a better quality of life.
Our highest priority is to always keep our patients and staff as safe as possible, while not wavering on our commitment to providing patients with safe, high-quality, and comprehensive cancer treatment services. We understand the concerns you may have during this time of uncertainty, but please know that our physicians and staff are here for you and that hypofractionated radiation therapy is an excellent treatment option for prostate cancer.
To learn more about how Illinois CyberKnife treats prostate cancer with CyberKnife technology, please click here. To contact Illinois CyberKnife with any questions, or to get a second opinion, please click here.