Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy uses radiation, for example high-energy X-rayA type of electromagnetic radiation used to produce images of the body. beams, to destroy cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. cells and stop the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. spreading. Although normal cells in the path of the beam will also be damaged, they can recover better than the cancerousMalignant, a tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. cells.

Recommended if you:

  • Have intermediate or high risk, localised prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

It is an option if you have locally advanced prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. and can also be used to treat areas to which the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. has spread, for instance the bones.

There are a number of types of radiotherapy for the treatment of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. Your treatment will depend on whether the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. has spread from your prostate:

  • External beam radiotherapy, EBRT (for localised and locally-advanced prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.)
  • Conformal radiotherapy The treatment of disease using radiation.(for localised locally-advanced prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.)
  • Internal brachytherapyA type of radiotherapy where radioactive pellets or wires are inserted into the tumour. (for localised prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.)
  • Radiotherapy for metastatic prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

Radiotherapy does not make you radioactive outside the treatment room, so it is safe to be with other people while you are receiving treatment. If you are worried about the possible effects on your partner or on children, check with your doctors about what they recommend following each type of radiotherapy.

Advantages of radiotherapy

  • Given to you as an outpatient
  • Painless while being delivered.

Disadvantages of radiotherapy

  • Cure is not guaranteed
  • Can cause erectile problems, urinary problems and bowel problems
  • Side effects, such as skin soreness, cystitis and tiredness, may occur afterwards.

External beam radiotherapy

External beam radiotherapy The treatment of disease using radiation.(EBRT) is used to treat locally-advanced prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. The aim of this treatment is to destroy the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. It is also used to relieve pain in metastatic prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

Recommended if you have intermediate or high risk, localised prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

It is also an option if you have locally advanced prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. and to treat areas to which the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. has spread, for instance the bones.

EBRT is usually given at a hospital radiotherapy department. It can be on an outpatient basis, lasting a few minutes every day during the week over four to eight weeks.

Hormonal therapy is usually given before, during or after radiotherapy to increase the effectiveness of radiotherapy The treatment of disease using radiation.(by shrinking the tumour to make it a more effective target).

Advantages of external beam radiotherapy

  • Given to you as an outpatient
  • Painless while being delivered.

Disadvantages of external beam radiotherapy

  • Cure is not guaranteed
  • Can cause erectile problems, urinary problems and bowel problems
  • Side-effects, such as skin soreness, cystitis and tiredness, may occur afterwards.

Conformal radiotherapy

Conformal radiotherapy is a type of external radiotherapy. The aim of this treatment is to destroy the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. and stop it spreading.

Recommended if you have:

  • Intermediate or high risk localised prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.
  • Locally advanced prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

In this type of radiotherapy, metal blocks are placed in the path of the beams to change their shape and make them 'conform' more closely to the shape of the prostate. This focuses a higher dose beam on the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. more accurately and reduces the amount of radiation given to healthy cells. This should produce fewer side effects.

Intensity-modulated radiotherapy The treatment of disease using radiation.(IMRT) is a newer type of conformal radiotherapy that can deliver different doses of radiation to the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. This may be more effective, although more research is needed on its long-term benefits.

Advantages of conformal radiotherapy

  • Targets the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. more accurately
  • Allows a lower dose of radiation to be delivered, leading to fewer side effects.

Disadvantages of conformal radiotherapy

  • Can miss some cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. cells.

Radiotherapy for metastatic prostate cancer

Radiotherapy can be used to relieve pain caused by cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. that has spread from the prostate to other parts of the body such as the bones. It is not a cure for prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. The aim of this treatment is to provide relief from pain. It is a palliative treatment designed to make the patient more comfortable and relieve the symptoms of the disease.

There are several ways in which radiotherapy is used to relieve pain in metastatic prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

External beam radiotherapy The treatment of disease using radiation.(EBRT) is effective at relieving pain in bones or other areas where the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. has spread. It is especially useful for treating pain in the spine. It is given as a single treatment or a series of smaller treatments, over a number of weeks, and can result in quick relief from pain.

If cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. cells are found in several areas of bone, you may receive hemibody irradiation: treatment over one half of the body (either the top half or the bottom half). The other half may also receive treatment at a later stage. The side effects of hemibody irradiation can be worse than more localised radiation.

The whole body can also be treated by injecting a radioactive material called strontium 89 into a vein in your arm. It circulates through the body and is absorbed by bones affected by cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. This usually helps to relieve pain within three weeks and can also delay any new sites of pain from developing in the future. This can usually be done as an outpatient procedure and can be repeated.

Advantages of radiotherapy for metastatic prostate cancer

  • Effective pain relief.

Disadvantages of radiotherapy for metastatic prostate cancer

Depending on where EBRT is targeted:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bowel problems
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Urinary problems
  • Pain gets worse slightly before getting better
  • When using Strontium 89, a small amount of radioactive material will be present in your urine and bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. after the therapy. You will need to take special precautions, such as avoiding spilling urine and double flushing after urinating. However, it is safe to be with other people.