Many men diagnosed with prostate cancer will need radiation therapy to improve their chances of remission or to improve symptoms if the cancer is inoperable. Traditional radiation therapy is the normal approach, but proton therapy is increasing in popularity and can be a tempting choice. Before you make a decision, there are several factors you should consider.

1. Costs

The major deciding factor for you might be the cost. You might be limited based on your oncologist's recommendations and what your insurance will cover. Radiation therapy should be covered by your insurance as long as it is part of the prescribed treatment for cancer. Proton therapy may not be covered by your insurance or recommended by your oncologist, even if it is covered. Since proton therapy tends to be more expensive than traditional radiation therapy, you may need to pay most or all of the costs out-of-pocket. 

Additionally, you will need to consider the accessibility of the proton therapy when determining the costs. There are few facilities offering proton therapy, which could lead to higher transportation costs and the possibility of needing an overnight stay at a hotel if the center is far away.

2. Benefits

Both types of radiation are potentially beneficial for prostate cancer, especially for cancers that are inoperable due to their size or location near organs or blood vessels. There is no general consensus on any difference in benefits between the two procedures. More than likely your radiation treatments will be combined with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, hormonal treatments, and/or surgery. 

With growing precision in radiation therapy as a whole, the process is more targeted, which improves the accuracy of treatments. An option that might have more benefits than traditional radiation or proton therapy are forms of internal radiation. Since the pellets of radiation are placed internally and released over time, they are more precise than external radiation.

3. Risks

All forms of radiation therapy carry risks. One of the major selling-points of proton therapy for prostate cancer is the lower risks of damage to surrounding tissue than traditional radiation. Since the prostate is located close to many organs, such as those of the gastrointestinal and urinary systems, there is a higher risk of these organs being damaged during treatment. 

There is also a risk of sexual dysfunction. Proton therapy is more targeted than traditional radiation, thereby lowering the risk of damage to healthy tissues. Unfortunately, there is currently no evidence the risk of side effects in prostate cancer patients is truly different from traditional radiation.

Ultimately, you will need to make a decision between various radiation approaches, if given the option. Knowing the differences between approaches can help you decide whether the price tag of proton therapy is worth it for you. For more information, contact a company like Advanced Urology Associates.