I wish you the best of luck in being accepted at Loma Linda--I hear nothing but praise for their all encompassing treatment program. Your question to me below is an interesting one! I don't think that the rectal balloon, whether used or not, should have anything to do with any side effects during treatment. They did not use the balloon where I was treated and I seem to recall that someone told me that they no longer use it at Loma Linda (although I could be mistaken). The theory of using the balloon was supposedly to keep the radiation away from the rectal area. I was told that if the radiation beam was effectively placed that the balloon was not necessary. Also, I was told that the balloon had a two way effect. Perhaps helping to protect the rectal area, but the balloon could press tissue on the other side of the balloon closer to the area being radiated. Therefore, it could be considered a "double edge" sword. Eliminating the balloon certainly makes the treatment more pleasant!
During my treatments, I talked to some of the guys who were being treated at the same time. What I found out is an inclination to say that they have zero side effects if in fact they do have some side effects, but they do not consider them bothersome. I found that most of the guys had one or more of the following side effects to some degree (of course there may have been some exceptions): urinary, bowel and fatigue. It is hard to believe that the side effects would be zero. That's why I pressed some guys when they said they had no side effects and then they admitted that they had something, but no big deal.
I had more frequent urination, but never to the point that I didn't think I would make it to the bathroom. I seemed to experience more frequent urination later in the day and during the night. On occassion, I had to urinate frequently during the night, but not necessarily every night. I did take Flomax starting about one week into my treatments. I felt that it did help some, especially in increasing the flow of urine at times, but it was hard to tell what the overall benefit of Flomax was for me. The flow of urine was slow at times and there was some very mild burning. My urination has returned to my pre-treatment norm (no frequent urination). In fact, my flow now seems stronger than ever at times.
My bowel movements changed quite a bit during treatment (much more frequently and in small quantities). I found this very annoying at times. After treatment, my bowels returned to my pre-treatment norm which I am very happy with (usually once of day). One thing that may well impact bowel moments during treatment is the recommendation to substantially reduce fiber in your diet from cereals, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, etc. While I did not eliminate them, I am sure that the reduction made a big difference in my bowel movements.
I did not experience any chronic fatigue during my treatment. I did experience some fatigue at times, but it was probably more related to stress or not getting enough sleep at times. There was one younger guy who was treated at the same time as me, who continued to work every day, who claimed to have a lot of fatigue. I am sure his work had a lot to do with it.
When you are retired you have the luxury to take it easy during treatment, if you so wish!
Keep us informed as your journey continues!
"Dave I have a question for you about your treatment. Do you think the minimal side effects you had were because no balloon was used during your treatment or is it just the nature of the beast. I ask because I see many who are treated at LLMU who say not just minimal SE, but zero SE."
68, 29-core biopsy 9/27/06, PSA 7.1, Stage T1c, Gleason 7 (3+4) [less than 20% in one area], Gleason 6 [less than 5% in two other areas], negative DRE, bone scan and Endorectal MRI. Completed 39 Proton radiation treatments 2/22/07-4/18/07.
First PSA test to be taken 7/07.