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Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer Treatment

Aug 17, 2007
Radiation therapy, also commonly known as radiotherapy, is the most frequently prescribed prostate cancer treatment. It is designed to kill off your cancerous cells with high energy radiation beams however even with the accurateness of the process today some normal body cells are inevitably also killed during radiotherapy sessions. This accounts for any side effects you may suffer from.

Radiotherapy as a prostate cancer treatment can be used for all stages of the disease. If you are diagnosed as having early stage prostate cancer then radiotherapy can often cure the disease without the need for surgery. Later stage cancers may require surgery followed by a course of radiotherapy and in terminal cases radiotherapy can still be used to relieve the pain associated with the disease.

There are two main ways in which radiation can be used as a prostate cancer treatment; internally and externally. The type of radiotherapy you receive will depend on your circumstances and the extent of your cancer. For more information about the treatments and how they work you should speak to your oncologist as they will be able to give you much more detailed information than is given here.

The prostate cancer treatment known as brachytherapy, or internal radiation, works by implanting microbeads of radioactive material directly into your cancerous tissue. These microbeads act to kill the cancerous cells in the immediate vicinity and only a very small number of normal body cells also become damaged. This will lead to you suffering from minor side effects such as urinary leakage and occasionally penile dysfunction however in some cases these are almost non-existent.

Having internal radiotherapy as a prostate cancer treatment will mean you have to undergo keyhole surgery however this is a one-time procedure and will only entail a short stay in hospital. Because of the relative expense of this procedure, it is only used in cases where cure is still a viable outcome i.e. where the cancer is still confined to the prostate and has not yet spread to other sites in the body.

External radiation is the more commonly used prostate cancer treatment. It will involve you travelling to the hospital on average five times per week and spending time underneath the radiation machine. In this case the radiation beam penetrates through the skin, muscle and fat before it reaches the cancerous tissue of the prostate and so many more normal body cells are damaged. Thus with this form of treatment you will often suffer with more severe and varied side effects than with the previous option.

With regards to the skin you may lose some of the pubic hair permanently and the area may become a little sore and dry however this is a small price to pay considering the potential outcome. Internally, you might suffer with incontinence, urinary and bowel discomfort and some degree of impotence as the tissues around the prostate gland are affected. Thankfully, advancements are continually being made that mean fewer normal body cells are damaged and so the side effects described may be minimal in your case.

Radiation therapy is a very effective prostate cancer treatment and although it can be gruelling and cause you to feel fatigued a lot of the time, it is well worth pursuing as a treatment.
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