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How is radiation therapy done for prostate cancer?

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Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. You can get it in one of two ways:

Newer forms of this technique use tiny particles called protons instead of X-rays. Proton therapy better targets prostate tissue in hopes of causing less damage to other parts.

  • External beam radiation therapy focuses X-rays on your prostate from a machine outside your body.
  • Brachytherapy uses small pellets which slowly give off low levels of radiation inside your prostate for a few weeks or months. Doctors will give you medicine to put you to sleep or make your body numb, then put the pellets in through thin needles. You may have to stay away from pregnant women and children during this treatment. Doctors can also give the radiation through small tubes that they place in your prostate for a few minutes at a time.

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Prostate Cancer."

Horwich, A. , 2013. Annals of Oncology

National Cancer Institute: "Prostate Cancer PDQ." "Treatment Choices for Men with Early-Stage Prostate Cancer."

National Comprehensive Cancer Network: "Prostate Cancer: NCCN Guidelines for Patients."

Prostate Cancer Foundation: "Understanding Prostate Cancer--Treatment Options."

UpToDate: “Initial approach to low- and very low-risk clinical localized prostate cancer.”

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on May 12, 2018

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Prostate Cancer."

Horwich, A. , 2013. Annals of Oncology

National Cancer Institute: "Prostate Cancer PDQ." "Treatment Choices for Men with Early-Stage Prostate Cancer."

National Comprehensive Cancer Network: "Prostate Cancer: NCCN Guidelines for Patients."

Prostate Cancer Foundation: "Understanding Prostate Cancer--Treatment Options."

UpToDate: “Initial approach to low- and very low-risk clinical localized prostate cancer.”

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin on May 12, 2018

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What are side-effects of radiation for the treatment of early-stage prostate cancer?

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