During radiation therapy, radiation (high-energy rays) is used to kill tumor cells. The radiation may be administered externally by a machine, or internally by implanting tiny seeds (the size of rice grains) inside the prostate to emit radiation directly to the cancer.
Radiation therapy can be used as the main treatment for small, early-stage prostate cancer, or in more advanced cases to reduce the size of the tumor or relieve symptoms.
A common treatment option to kill cancer cells in the prostate is 3D-conformal external beam (CEB) radiation. A beam of radiation is focused directly on the cancerous prostate.
Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is also offered at the Duke Cancer Institute.
Therapy is normally spread out over a period of time -- each session lasts only a few moments and is painless.
Brachytherapy is a minimally invasive, outpatient treatment option that involves the insertion of radioactive seeds or pellets into the prostate, where they kill surrounding tissue with the goal of ablating the cancer. Ultrasound imaging is used to guide seed placement.
Brachytherapy tends to be a good option for men in the early stages of prostate cancer. The Duke Cancer Institute also offers high-dose brachytherapy (HDR).
Radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer can bring side effects that include incontinence or loss of bowel control and increased risk of bladder cancer or rectal cancer.
Learn how to make an appointment at the Duke Cancer Institute.