Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Radiation therapy often is used to treat prostate cancer that is contained within the prostate or the surrounding area. For early-stage disease, patients often have a choice between surgery and radiation with similar outcomes. For larger or more aggressive tumors, radiation therapy may be used in combination with hormone therapy. Radiation also may be used to treat prostate cancer tumors that are not completely removed or that come back after surgery. Duration time for each treatment will vary based on the individual tumor.

Radiation therapy is often recommended as a treatment method as it can be less invasive than surgery. The newest radiation therapy techniques and remarkable skill allow our doctors to target tumors more precisely than ever before, delivering the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells.

Banner MD Anderson provides the most advanced radiation treatments for prostate cancer, including:

  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT): External radiation which is tailored to the specific shape of the tumor, avoiding surrounding normal organs
  • Brachytherapy: Tiny radioactive seeds are placed in the prostate very close to the tumor and left permanently

Because the prostate can move within the body from day to day, techniques are used to ensure the radiation is being given to the exact location of the organ each day. These include:

  • Ultrasound imaging through the abdomen
  • Implanting gold markers that show up on X-rays
  • CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scan
  • Proton therapy

What to expect after radiation therapy:

After treatment, you may experience fatigue, dry skin or other side effects. 

Side effects from radiation therapy for prostate cancer:

Potential side effects may include:

  • Frequent or painful urination
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Irregular bowel movements 

Talk to your doctor about any side effects you may have as there may be treatments available.