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Prostate Cancer Treatment Guide

Treatment
Description
Prostate Cancer
Patient Profile
Prostate Cancer
Treatments
Prostate Cancer
Survival Rates
Prostate Cancer
Side Effects
Therapy News View Procedures Share Your Experience

Radiation
Therapy

Prostate Radiation Therapy

EBRT or electron beam radiation therapy aims external radiation at prostate cancer cells. Prostate Radiation
Therapy

EBRT or electron beam radiation therapy aims external radiation at prostate cancer cells.

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Using Radiation Therapy

IMRT and 3D-CRT are newer versions of EBRT and are non-invasive. Using Radiation Therapy

IMRT and 3D-CRT are newer versions of EBRT and are non-invasive.

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Radiation Treatment

Radiation therapy generally requires 5 treatments per week over 6-8 weeks. Radiation Treatment

Radiation therapy generally requires 5 treatments per week over 6-8 weeks.

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External Radiation Outcomes

Multiple long- and short-term studies indicate success rates over 85% especially when used with other therapies. External Radiation
Outcomes

Multiple long- and short-term studies indicate success rates over 85% especially when used with other therapies.

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Radiation
Side Effects

May include tiredness, diarrhea, skin irritation, upset stomach, frequent or burning urination, and proctitis. Radiation
Side Effects

May include tiredness, diarrhea, skin irritation, upset stomach, frequent or burning urination, and proctitis.

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Prostate News

Click here for the latest news on Radiation Therapy.Prostate News

Click here for the latest news on Radiation Therapy.

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Radiation Therapy
Videos

Click here to view Radiation Therapy procedures. Radiation Therapy
Videos

Click here to view Radiation Therapy procedures.

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Radiation Therapy
Experiences


Click here to share your Radiation Therapy experiences.Radiation Therapy
Experiencse

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Brachytherapy

Chemotherapy

Cryotherapy & Cryosurgery

Hormone
Therapy

Prostatectomy

Robotic Prostatectomy

Watchful
Waiting

Complementary
and
Alternative Medicine

High Intensity
Focused
Ultrasound (HIFU)

Emerging Technologies

 

Types of Radiotherapy and Prostate Cancer

There are three types of common radiotherapies used as prostate cancer treatments: the conventional electron beam radiation therapy (EBRT), and the newer 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) and intensity modulated radiation (IMRT). Electron beam radiation therapy was the first external radiation therapy used as a prostate cancer treatment. The type of particle used for these three therapies is called photons which have no charge and no significant mass. Photons are the same type of energy used in diagnostic x-rays.

3D-CRT is an advanced form of EBRT, and IMRT is an advanced form of 3D-CRT. Therefore, the way radiation oncologists prepare their patients for the procedure is similar. Patients receiving external radiation therapy usually receive treatments Monday through Friday for 5 to 9 weeks depending on the doctor’s prescription. Radiotherapy usually begins with a CT (computer tomography) scan of the prostate gland and the surrounding organs. The CT scan takes a 3D-picture of the prostate gland and the surrounding organs and a team of radiation physicists and dosimetrists plan a target area for the radiation beam. The target area conforms to the shape of the patient’s prostate gland and, to ensure correct positioning, the patient will have his target area marked with permanent ink. The team will further use alignment lasers to direct the radiation beam. The patient, who is lying on his back, receives therapy from the linear accelerator which moves up, down, and around to hit the target area from different angles.


3-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy
3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy introduces the use of a body immobilization device. Since positioning is everything for the radiation oncologist, an immobile patient target area is much easier to hit than the target area of a patient who might sneeze or inadvertently change positions. The CT scan is performed on a computer with specialized software that takes detailed cross-sectional pictures of the patient’s internal anatomy. The linear accelerator is then aimed precisely at each of the targeted areas in these pictures. The prostate gland therefore can receive a much stronger dose of radiation while the surrounding organs receive much less.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Beam Therapy
Intensity modulated radiation therapy takes 3D-CRT a step further. The intensity of the beam is modified so that much smaller beams of radiation are delivered from multiple angles at smaller intervals. A patient receives more beams of radiation, but since these beams are thinner, they are capable of hitting the target more precisely while not hitting the healthy tissue. IMRT is currently not as common in the United States as 3D-CRT, but is gaining popularity as a prostate cancer treatment.

Proton Beam Radiation Therapy
The technique of conformal proton beam radiation therapy is similar to that of 3D-conformal radiation therapy. The proton is a subatomic particle, not a wave like the photon. Protons deposit their energy into tissue only as they begin to slow down after being produced by the linear accelerator. A radiation oncologist can therefore determine to which speed to accelerate the protons, resulting in maximum amount of energy being deposited into the prostate tumor. The proton can be aimed with extreme precision and is often used for delicate surgeries such as those involving the eye or spine. Conformal proton beam radiation therapy is the most expensive type of radiotherapy, and is usually used in conjunction with another type of EBRT.

How Radiotherapy Destroys Prostate Cancer
Patients who opt for radiotherapy as their prostate cancer treatment will go 5 times a week for 5 to 9 weeks depending on the doctor’s prescription and the extent of the disease. Radiotherapy can be inconvenient, but exposing the cancerous cells to lowered doses of radiation damages their DNA by creating free radicals. Normal cells are able to quickly repair this damage before dividing, but cancerous cells cannot. Since prostate cancer grows slowly, many weeks of therapy are necessary to continually damage the DNA that a cancerous cell may otherwise have time to repair.

 
 
 

 
 
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