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Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer


Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses high-energy X-rays to directly target the cancerous cells in the prostate. The most common type of radiation therapy is called external beam radiation therapy. It is usually used to treat prostate cancer that is confined to the prostate or has spread only to nearby tissue. For advanced-stage prostate cancer, radiation may be used to shrink the tumor and relieve symptoms.
Brachytherapy is a treatment using radioactive seeds placed inside the prostate gland during an outpatient procedure. It is sometimes used alone for low-risk patients or combined with five weeks of IG-IMRT for patients with higher-risk prostate cancers.

What is External Beam Radiation Therapy?

External beam radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) involves a series of daily treatments to accurately deliver radiation to the prostate.

What is IMRT?

Intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, is a state-of-the-art technology that allows doctors to tailor each treatment to an individual patient. Using the CT and MRI, the radiation oncologist instructs the computer how much radiation is to be delivered to the prostate and the surrounding tissues. The computer determines the best way to deliver the treatment by varying, or “modulating,” the intensity of each radiation beam.

What is IGRT?

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) uses prostate imaging at each treatment session to make sure the prostate has not moved. This ensures that the prostate is always targeted precisely during radiation treatment.

IGRT and IMRT are two advanced techniques used to treat prostate cancer, often combined into the term IG-IMRT.

Benefits of External Beam Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy itself is painless and does not require a hospital stay or recovery time as surgery does. And because it uses beams that target only the cancerous areas, damage to surrounding tissue is minimized. Compared to prostate cancer surgery, there is less chance of incontinence and a better chance of regaining sexual function.