Radiotherapy uses high energy rays to treat cancer.
It is a treatment for some prostate cancers. You might have it with other treatments or on its own. Find out about what it is and when you have it.
Radiotherapy for early prostate cancer
External beam therapy
External beam radiotherapy directs radiotherapy beams at the cancer from a machine.
Internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy)
Internal radiotherapy treats the prostate cancer with radiotherapy from inside the prostate gland.
Having both treatments
You might need to have external radiotherapy and internal radiotherapy if your cancer has a high risk of coming back after treatment.
Radiotherapy aims to cure cancer that is completely contained inside the prostate gland (localised prostate cancer). This treatment is called radical radiotherapy. It gives a high dose of radiation to the prostate.
There are different ways of giving radiotherapy to try to cure prostate cancer. They include external beam therapy and internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy).
Radiotherapy can get rid of the cancer completely in more than 6 out of 10 men (more than 60%) with early prostate cancer.
Radiotherapy for locally advanced prostate cancer
Locally advanced prostate cancer means the cancer has spread into the tissues around the prostate gland. You might have external radiotherapy and hormone therapy. Some men have surgery to remove the prostate gland instead of radiotherapy. Your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you.
Radiotherapy if prostate cancer has spread
Treating individual areas of cancer spread
External radiotherapy can shrink cancer that has spread to other parts of the body or has come back in the prostate after surgery. It helps to reduce pain and other symptoms.
You might have it to treat areas of cancer in the bones. It works by killing off most of the cancer cells in the treated area. This shrinks the cancer and relieves the pressure on nerves that causes pain.
Treatment to the bone also strengthens the bones. Cancer in the bone can weaken the bone and make it more likely to break (fracture). After radiotherapy treatment, bone cells begin to replace the lost bone tissue. Then the bone gets stronger again and is less likely to fracture.
Treating the pelvic area
Your doctor might recommend radiotherapy to your pelvic area. You have one treatment with a low dose of radiation from an external radiotherapy machine. This is called hemi pelvis irradiation.
Radioactive liquid treatment
You might have liquid internal radiotherapy treatment if you have cancer in several areas of your bone. Radioactive liquid therapies (radio isotopes) include radium 223 and strontium 89. You have them by injection into a vein. The radium 223 or strontium 89 circulates throughout the body. The areas of cancer cells in the bone take up the radioactive liquid and it destroys them.
This type of treatment can help to control pain. It can also slow down the rate of growth of the cancer in the bones.
You might have radiotherapy to treat advanced prostate cancer. It can control symptoms and is called palliative radiotherapy.