Radiotherapy for prostate cancer
Men with prostate cancer may choose radiation therapy instead of surgery. It may also be used after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that remain in the area. In men with advanced prostate cancer, radiation therapy may be used to help relieve pain. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cells only in the part of the body that is treated. Doctors use two types of radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer. Some men receive both types:
External beam radiotherapy (machine outside the body):
The radiation comes from a large machine outside the body. The radiation beam has to travel through your bladder and your rectum to get to your prostate. Because of this, some men experience urinary frequency and burning and some diarrhoea for a few months. Computers are used to more closely target the prostate. Some such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy, proton radiation therapy, and 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy are types of radiation delivery systems that use computers to limit damage to healthy tissue. Treatments are usually 5 days a week for 8 to 9 weeks although cyber knife lasts only 5-8 days.
Radioactive material inside the body (brachytherapy):
This method places multiple radioactive seeds inside needles, and the needles are inserted into the prostate. When the needles are removed, the seeds are left behind.
The seeds give off radiation for months. The seeds do not need to be removed once the radiation is dissipated. The hospital stay for this procedure is usually just one night at the most. Side effects are low but it can affect the waterworks, cause irritation to the rectum and some men will become impotent.