Treating Prostate Cancer with Radiotherapy
Prostate cancer refers to uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the prostate gland. Prostate gland is male reproductive organ that is anatomically located just below the bladder and helps in the production of semen that carries and transport the sperms into the female genital tract.
Radiotherapy is a form of therapy that can treat malignant cancers. In this technique, high frequency rays or radiations are used both externally and internally to destroy the cancer cells or/and to treat similar diseases. Radiation therapy helps to prevent the growth and dispersion of cancer cells.
Treating Prostate cancer with Radiotherapy:
Radiation therapy is employed as a reliable treatment modality to treat cancer patients. Following types of radiation therapies are available to treat prostate cancer patients:
- External beam radiation (EBRT): It is the most frequently used type of radiation therapy in which a machine is used to direct high frequency beams or radiations externally onto the cancerous cells or tissues within the body. This treatment requires a complete course of several doses for a few weeks or days with an at least two days interval as the dosage required to destroy cancer cells is too high to be given in one sitting.
- Internal radiation therapy: This technique is also known as brachytherapy or seed implantation. In this therapy your doctor inserts or implants small radioactive pallets in the prostate near the tumor. It is a painless process. The implants might be temporary or permanent depending upon the nature of cancerous mass. In temporary implant the radioactive pallets remain inside the body for up to two days whereas in permanent implant the pallets reside within the body until the radiation material is completely decayed.
- Systematic radiation: In this type of radiation therapy, the radioactive material like iodine 131, is given to the person either orally or by injecting into the veins. It transmits through the blood, locating and killing cancer cells.
What are the side effects of radiation therapy?
Along with several benefits, the radiation therapy is also associated with a variety of side effects. Some are as follows:
- Damage or injury to the healthy cells: The radiation therapy can also destroy the healthy cells along with cancer cells. However, the healthy cells are restored again once the effects of radiation therapy fade away.
- Bowel problems: Sometimes, the radiation therapy can cause bowel issues like loose motion or bleeding.
- Erection problems: According to some studies, the radiotherapy may cause erection problems.
- Surgery might be difficult: After radiation therapy the scar tissue develops which makes it difficult for your doctor to perform the prostate surgery.
- Skin sensitivity: The skin around the area exposed to radiations may become sensitive. This skin sensitivity can be reduced by skin soothing ointments or lotions.
- Fatigue or tiredness: The radiotherapy drains the energy that may result in the tiredness or fatigue.
- Urinary problems: Sometimes the urethra gets irritated and cause urine incontinence. This issue can eventually get better after some time of radiation.
The after effects of radiation therapy may last for months or even years. If one radioactive therapy fails to treat the cancer, other agents can be used. Sometimes the chemotherapy and radiotherapy are given together to the patients for better results. Surgery can also be performed, but only when necessary.