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Radiation therapy for prostate cancer

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Radiation therapy is one of the treatment options for prostate cancer. The cancerous cells are subjected to radiation, through which they get killed, while retaining the normal healthy cells.

When is radiation therapy suggested?

Radiation therapy is commonly done when your cancer has not invaded other organs of the body, except the prostate gland.

High dose of radiation is given to the prostate gland which is most likely to cure early stage of prostate cancer or locally advanced types. The radiation is given either from outside with a machine (external) or delivered inside (internal) with special tubes.

External radiation therapy may also be used to shrink secondary tumours and control pain in bones or other body parts.

Different types of radiation therapy for prostate cancer

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT): The radiation beam is delivered with a machine that looks like an x ray machine. The rays are shot directly into the prostate gland and one to two centimetres of its surrounding area. External beam radiation treats cancer in T1 and T2 stage.

Internal radiation therapy: Also known as brachytherapy, can be of low dose (seed implantation) or high dose is done under anaesthesia. The former involves insertion of radioactive seeds inside the prostate gland which continue releasing radiation for a certain period. In the latter several thin tubes are inserted via the rectum. The tubes are removed after the dose of radiation is completely delivered. It’s useful for T1, T2 and T3 stage.

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Plan of radiation treatment for prostate cancer

Your doctor will determine the treatment plan after evaluating your cancer and the kind of treatment and dose that would be most useful.

External beam radiation is given in sessions which could be 5 days/ week and might continue for six to nine weeks, while internal beam radiation is completed in a day.

How to prepare for radiation therapy?

Your doctor will perform a CT scan and MRI before delivering radiation by any means. Trans rectal ultrasound would also be performed.

For EBRT: Your doctor etch small marks n your skin which could be semi permanent in order to trace the exact area that should be exposed to radiation. You will be positioned very carefully on the table and your doctor will ask you not to move while the machine is on. The therapist will constantly monitor you.

It’s a painless technique.

For brachytherapy: Your doctor shall advice a special diet 24 hours before the radiation is delivered. You also need to clear your bowel completely; enema may be given for this purpose.

You are given a general anaesthesia before the catheter or needles are pushed inside you.

You may be given painkillers to combat post treatment pain.

Are there any side effects?

Short time side effects could be
  • Soreness in bladder and the area around prostate
  • General exhaustion and tiredness
  • Constipation or diarrhoea, frequent urination
  • Blood in semen or urine due to brachytherapy

Long term side effects could be bowel problems, urine incontinence, erectile dysfunction and infertility

What are the advantages of radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy is immensely successful in treating prostate cancer in early stage. An individual gets cured with radiation treatment! Brachytherapy is simpler than EBRT as your treatment is over in the same day.

What to expect after radiation therapy is over?

Definitely your doctor will schedule follow up treatments to check the improvement and symptoms.

You may be advised a special diet that would boost your immunity. Prostate cancer patients are also restricted from smoking.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: April 22, 2014

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