Your Treatment Options
Prostate Cancer Radiation Treatment
Radiation therapy is an effective, safe and widely used treatment option for many men with prostate cancer. Approximately 60% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer receive radiation therapy as part of their treatment plan.1,2
What Is Prostate Cancer Radiation Treatment?
Prostate cancer radiation treatment involves the targeted use of high-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells or inhibit their growth. Using advanced modern technology, a radiation oncologist precisely delivers radiation to the prostate gland while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues. The primary goal of radiation therapy is to eliminate or control the cancer, offering the potential for a favorable long-term outcome.
Benefits of Prostate Cancer Radiation Treatment:
Prostate cancer radiation treatment offers several key benefits when compared to other treatment options for prostate cancer, including:
1. Non-surgical approach - avoiding the potential complications associated with surgery
2. Localized treatment - precisely targeting the prostate while minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue
3. Further protection against side effects when combined with a rectal spacer, such as Barrigel – positions the rectum away from the prostate to protect it from radiation exposure, leading to fewer rectal side effects3
Combining Radiation Treatment with Other Therapies:
In certain cases, doctors may recommend combining radiation therapy with other treatment modalities for prostate cancer. This could include hormone therapy, which aims to lower the levels of male hormones in the body to slow down the growth of cancer cells. The combination of radiation therapy and hormone therapy has shown improved outcomes for patients with more advanced stages of prostate cancer.
Number of Treatments:
The number of radiation treatments for prostate cancer you need depends on which type of radiation treatment you receive, the grade and stage of your cancer, and the type of equipment your doctor uses. Typically, radiation is delivered in smaller doses over several sessions and can range between 4-6 weeks (hypofractionated radiation therapy schedule, shorter duration) and 6-8 weeks (conventional schedule). It’s important to discuss different radiation treatment options with your doctor and understand the number of treatments varies depending on your unique treatment plan.
While radiation therapy is generally well-tolerated, it can cause some side effects. These may include fatigue, skin irritation in the treatment area, urinary problems, and bowel changes. However, it's important to note that these side effects are typically temporary and manageable with appropriate medical care and support.
Role of Rectal Spacers:
To further increase the safety of prostate cancer radiation treatment, a rectal spacer may be inserted prior to treatment to protect the rectum from unwanted radiation exposure.
With its targeted delivery, minimally invasive nature (compared to surgery), and positive impact on quality of life, radiation therapy can be an ideal treatment option for patients. If you or your loved one is considering radiation treatment for prostate cancer, it’s important to discuss the advantages and risks with your doctor to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for you.
- Atun R, Jaffray DA, Barton MB et al. Expanding global access to radiotherapy. Lancet Oncol. 2015;16(10):1153-86.
- Pienta KJ, Gorin MA, Rowe SP et al. A Phase 2/3 prospective multicenter study of the diagnostic accuracy of prostate specific membrane antigen PET/CT with 18 F-DCFPyL in prostate cancer patients (OSPREY). J Urol. 2021;206(1):52-61.
- Mariados NF, Orio PF III, Schiffman Z et al. Hyaluronic acid spacer for hypofractionated prostate radiation therapy: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Oncol. 2023: e1-e8.