Prostate radiation treatment is the application of high-energy rays to kill or stop the growth of prostate cancer cells, according to WebMD. Though effective, it is a risky procedure that may result in negative effects, including bowel and bladder problems, erection problems and urinary problems, notes the American Cancer Society.
Doctors apply radiation therapy for prostate cancer as the initial cure for low-grade cancer that has not yet spread outside the prostate gland, and as one of the first cures for prostate cancer that has already spread to the nearby tissues, says the ACS. It is also suitable in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer and prostate cancer that recurs after surgery.
Prostate radiation treatment can either be external or internal, notes the ACS. In external radiation, the radiation machine produces the rays from outside the patient's body and projects the rays onto the prostate gland. Imaging tests, including magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, or CT, scans and plain x-rays of the pelvis usually precede external beam radiation therapy to help locate the position of the prostate gland. Typically, this treatment lasts for 7 to 9 weeks, and the patient gets the treatment for five days every week. As for internal radiation, also known as brachytherapy, a doctor permanently or temporarily implants radioactive seeds directly into the prostate gland and allows them to kill the prostate cancer cells.