Radiation therapy involves exposing cancer cells to high doses of radiation in the hope of kiling the tumor. Some forms of radiation can also be used in men with advanced or reoccuring prostate cancer.
External Beam Radiation: This is the most common kind of radiation. MRI and CT scans are used to locate the cancerous cells and X-rays are targeted to those specific areas. Through using 3-D conformal radiation therapy, a computerized program locates the exact position of the prostate tumors so the highest dose of radiation can destroy the cancer cells within the prostate.
Proton Therapy: Protons of energetic particles target the prostate cancer tumor without affecting surrounding tissue. This precise attack on the cancer cells leads to their death, as the cells are especially susceptible to attack because of their quick division. Proton treatment is specially valuable for treating localized tumors before they spread to other tissues and beyond the prostate. The advantage of using protons over other external beam sources is precision. Unfortunately, there are currently very few medical institutions with proton machines in the United States and the treatment is quite expensive so it is not commonly used.
Brachytherapy or Internal Radiation Therapy: Tiny radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate through a surgical procedure. Through using 3-D conformal radiation therapy, the radiologist is able to map out the tumor and place the seeds in the optimal location for killing the cancer cells.
Along with any medical procedure radiation can have side effects. The following are some common side effects of radiation treatment:
-Frequent & Painful Urination
-Skin Irritation in Treatment Areas
-Rectal Irritation or Rectal Bleeding