Hypofractionated radiation delivers more intense, shorter-term care for prostate cancer

FOX CHASE (WPVI) -- Many men are leery of prostate cancer treatments, fearing long treatment times and side effects.

However, there's one from of radiation that preserves the quality of life during and after treatment.

A routine physical may have saved Frank Milewski's life.

"They did lab work and the lab work came back and showed an elevated level of PSA," says Milewski.

Once the diagnosis was in, Milewski met with doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

"They spent probably between the two of them about 90 minutes explaining different options," he recalls.

They ranged from surveillance - just watching the prostate tumor - all the way to surgery.

Even within radiation, there were choices: five days a week for eight weeks, versus a shorter course.

"I opted to take the five treatments spread it over 10 days," he says.

What he chose is called hypofractionated radiation.

Dr. Eric Horwitz says it works best for small to medium-sized tumors.

"The dose is so big that we actually don't treat people five days in a row. We only treat them a couple days a week, but it's only five treatments," Dr. Horwitz says.

He adds, "It's so precise that we really, really can minimize the side effects."

Perfect for Milewski, who lived an hour and a halfway, and was working

"I'd drive home, have dinner, watch TV, get up the next day, go to work. And there was no side effect," he says.

Dr. Mark Hallman says any side effects that do develop can usually be managed with medications.

"Our job is not only to treat your cancer well but minimize how much it impacts your quality of life," says Dr. Hallman.

Frank says research studies showing the success of hypofractionated radiation, and Fox Chase's 25-years record of research solidified his decision.

'It worked out so well for me," he says with a smile.

"I like to tell my patients they have better things to do than spend their time in the radiation department," says Dr. Horwitz.

Milewski says it's important for every man diagnosed with prostate cancer to research all the options and ask a lot of questions.

He has now been cancer-free for five years.
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