One of the quickest and most effective treatments for the elimination of prostate cancer is radiation therapy. Evidently, this course of treatment rapidly kills the cancer cells and prevents the spreading of cancer to other parts of the body.
Radiation therapy is usually the first treatment prescribed by almost all doctors for patients who are diagnosed with any form of cancer. This therapy is used most often for controlling malignant tumors and cancers inside our body.
Two kinds of radiation therapy are generally prescribed – internal and external. The external radiation therapy of a prostate is carried out with the help of external beam radiations. A concentrated radiation beam is emitted from the machine which targets and destroys the prostate cancer cells.
The beams are believed to comprise of highly concentrated energy waves that damage the DNA present inside our body cells. When these cells are destroyed, the cancer cells are affected as well, thus disrupting the rapid division of cancer cells.
To perform this therapy, a linear accelerator is placed at the distance of 1 meter from the patient. This accelerator produces highly energized external radiation beams which penetrate inside our tissues and deliver consistent dozes in the areas where cancer cells exists.
The patients who receive these external beams are not considered to be radioactive as the energy waves are received from outside sources and are not left within the body. The dozes of these external beams are given in the form of small fractioned waves. They are not given more than once during the day, or more than five times a week. Also, interval periods of a few days are kept between therapy sessions to let the body recover.
External radiation therapy can further be sub-categorized into three types, namely EBRT (standard external beam radiation therapy), IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy), and 3DCRT (3 dimensional conformal radiation therapy). All these kinds of external radiation therapies are quite similar to one another; as they all involve production of high energy beams.
The difference between these types is on the basis of direction, regulation, accuracy, and side effects of the high-energy rays that are produced. EBRT therapy involves limited beam directions, that is, horizontal and vertical linear beams leaving other parts of the body that are vulnerable to radiation.
Due to this, there are several side effects associated with the process of radiation therapy. On the flip side, 3DCRT involves the use of online imaging software which guides the beams regarding the area to be targeted. This procedure has a number of different angles which ensures more accurate targeting of the area, as well as lesser side effects.
Some of the side effects associated with radiation therapy for prostate cancer include frequent urination along with dysuria (painful urination), bowel discomfort, Himaturia (bloody urine), rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and erectile dysfunction (sexual impairment).
Radiation therapy is used most commonly for the treatment of prostate cancer. Doctors can prescribe the right course of treatment depending on your condition. Having any form of therapy brings with it few side-effects; thus, doctors should equip their patients with all the required information related to the expected side effects. The ultimate aim of the therapy is to eradicate prostate cancer completely.