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External Beam Radiotherapy

article written by article by Dr Michael Rampaul

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill prostate cancer cells, shrink tumors or prevent cancer cells from dividing and spreading. Because the rays cannot be directed perfectly, they may damage both cancer cells and healthy cells nearby. If the dose of radiation is small and spread out over time, however, the healthy cells are able to recover and survive, and the cancer cells eventually die.

Radiation therapy is usually used when prostate cancer has spread beyond the prostate. It can help prevent the cancer from spreading further. Like surgery, radiation therapy works best when the cancer is located in a small area. In early stages of prostate cancer, radiation therapy may cure the disease. Radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination with hormone therapy when cancer cells have spread beyond the prostate to the pelvic area and for pain relief in prostate cancer that is no longer responding to hormone therapy and has spread to the bones.

There are two ways in which the high energy rays can be delivered.

In external beam radiation therapy, the rays are delivered by a machine, and the radiation is given in brief sessions, usually one session each weekday for several weeks.

In internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy), the rays come from tiny radioactive seeds inserted directly into the prostate.

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