Understanding Prostate Radiation Therapy and Its Effects

September 13, 2023

A prostate cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, but medical advancements have opened up a range of treatment options, each with its own benefits and considerations.

At Alliance Cancer Care we treat cancer using radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, which involves the use of targeted high-energy rays to kill prostate cancer cells. Prostate radiation has been used for over 50 years. It’s a common treatment option for prostate cancer, and it can be administered in two primary forms: external beam radiation and internal radiation (brachytherapy).

Advantages of Radiation Therapy

  1. Non-Invasive Treatment: Radiation therapy is a non-surgical approach that doesn’t require any incisions, anesthesia or hospitalization, making it less invasive than surgery.

  2. Targeted Treatment: Radiation therapy precisely targets the cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

  3. Preserving Quality of Life: Radiation therapy has the potential to effectively treat prostate cancer while preserving urinary and sexual function, which are often a concern with surgery.

  4. Curative and Palliative Options: Radiation therapy can be used as a curative treatment for localized cancer or as a palliative treatment to alleviate symptoms in advanced cases.

Side Effects and Management

While radiation therapy is generally well-tolerated, there are potential side effects that patients should be aware of:

  • Fatigue: Feeling tired is common during radiation treatment. Rest, maintaining a healthy diet, and light exercise can help manage fatigue.

  • Urinary Symptoms: Increased frequency, urgency, or discomfort while urinating are possible. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeine and alcohol can help mitigate these symptoms.

  • Bowel Changes: Diarrhea or other bowel changes are possible but usually temporary. A balanced diet and staying hydrated can aid in managing these symptoms.

  • Sexual Function: Erectile dysfunction might occur, but is more similar to the natural aging process. The severity and timeline varies. Discussing this with your healthcare team can lead to solutions.

Anticipated Outcomes

Radiation therapy’s effectiveness depends on several factors, including the stage of cancer, your overall health, and the treatment plan. For localized cancer, radiation therapy has a high success rate in achieving remission or controlling cancer growth. Regular follow-up appointments and prostate specific antigen (PSA) lab testing will help monitor your progress.

Radiation therapy is a powerful tool in the fight against prostate cancer, offering advantages such as targeted treatment, preservation of quality of life, and the benefit of non-invasive treatment. While side effects are possible, they are temporary, and your healthcare team will work closely with you to manage them and ensure your well-being throughout the treatment process. Remember, you’re not alone on this journey – lean on your support network and healthcare professionals to guide you through every step of your treatment.

Interested in learning more about Alliance Cancer Care? Contact our care team today at 256-319-5400.