Medical Dictionary of Bone Cancer

C A N C E R  I N F O R M A T I O N

Prostate Cancer Radiation

Prostate cancer radiation treatments use high energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. While prostate cancer radiation treatments destroy the harmful cancer cells they do as little harm as possible to the normal, healthy cells. The radiotherapy is usually given to a patient with a machine and it is referred to as external beam radiotherapy. However, there are some patients who are diagnosed with prostate cancer early.

These patients can have prostate cancer radiation treatments in a different way which is known as brachytherapy. This is done by inserting small radioactive seeds into the cancerous tumor. Both external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy are equally as effective in treating and curing prostate cancer.

In patients who are in the early stages of prostate cancer external radiotherapy is given directly to the cancerous tumor. This approach works to destroy the cancer while doing as little harm or damage to the healthy normal cells that are in the area. This type of approach is referred to as radical radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy can also be given to a cancer patient if their prostate cancer has spread to other areas in the body. While this approach cannot get rid of every cancer cell and cure the cancer it can help to reduce the pain and make the patient more comfortable. This type of approach is referred to as palliative radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy is done in a hospital and it usually requires daily sessions during the week with the weekend days off for rest. Prostate cancer radiation treatments can continue for several weeks. It is important the radiotherapy is planned out to make it as effective as possible to treat the cancer. Planning and preparing for radiotherapy can take a few visits.

Generally, on your first visit to the radiotherapy department in your hospital you will have a CT scan performed. You will be asked to lie under a machine that will take pictures or x-rays of the area that is to be treated. When you have your first radiotherapy treatment you will be placed in a comfortable position and left alone. You will be able to talk to the radiographer, but he or she will be watching from another room. Receiving radiotherapy is not painful. However, you will have to lie completely still.

Prostate cancer radiation treatments can irritate the rectum and make you uncomfortable. You may be asked to change your diet, especially if you have soreness around your anal area. Prostate cancer radiation treatments may also make you experience the need to urinate more often than usual and the urine may burn.

In addition, prostate cancer radiation treatments can make you tired, affect your ability to have an erection, and it can also make your pubic hair fall out. These side effects generally disappear a few weeks after you complete your radiation treatments. During your prostate cancer radiation treatments your doctor can give you medication to aid and ease the discomfort and side effects.

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