Prostate Cancer Radiation Treatment

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer found in men. One in four British men diagnosed with cancer has prostate cancer. Thankfully, it is also a treatable form of cancer. The rate of survival from prostate cancer has gradually risen since the 1970s. Today approximately seven out of ten men diagnosed with prostate cancer will survive the illness.

The methods of treating prostate cancer vary from surgery to hormone therapy. Those diagnosed with prostate cancer may be treated by active surveillance, prostatectomy, radiotherapy, brachytherapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy. Often radiologists combine different approaches in the treatment of prostate cancer.

When it comes to treating prostate cancer, the age and condition of the patient must be taken into consideration. Furthermore, treatment will vary depending on how advanced the cancer is, and whether or not it has spread to other regions of the body. For example, prostate cancer radiation treatment may be combined with hormone treatment for prostate cancer.

Kinds of Radiation Therapy

Two kinds of prostate cancer radiation treatment exist. In external beam radiation therapy, a radiation machine similar to an x-ray machine radiates the cancer cells in the prostate gland. In bryachtherapy, miniscule radioactive pellets, or “seeds”, are injected into the prostate gland. Both kinds of prostate cancer radiation treatment are similarly effective.

While the first method of prostate cancer radiation treatment (beam radiation therapy) requires numerous visits to the hospital or clinic, the treatment does not require anaesthetic. Seed therapy requires only one visit to the hospital but anaesthetic is required and patients often experience discomfort following the radiation session. Beam radiation causes milder side effects than bryachtherapy, or seed prostate cancer radiation treatment.

Side Effects

Around 50% of patients who undergo radiation therapy become impotent within two years of receiving prostate cancer radiation treatment. Side-effects of radiation therapy include lethargy, urinary burning, urinary bleeding, rectal bleeding, rectal discomfort, and diahrrea. While the unobtrusive nature of prostate cancer radiation treatment is considered one of the advantages of this method of treatment, it can have serious implications. As the prostate gland is not removed, as in prostatectomy, the size of the tumor(s) cannot be determined. Thus, cancer remission is likely.

The Good News
Prostate cancer radiation treatment results in the direct treatment of the cancerous cells in the prostate, without causing severe damage to healthy tissue surrounding tissues the prostate gland. Using x-rays doctors gain a 3D image of the prostate and surrounding tissues. This enables them to direct radiation beams with great accuracy. It is also possible to determine the degree of radiation delivered to surrounding organs, such as the rectum, bladder, hips and penis. The safety of prostate cancer radiation treatment is constantly improving. It is possible to deliver high doses or radiation more safely than five years ago.

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