Radiotherapy means the use of radiation, usually x-rays, to treat cancer cells. For prostate cancer, you might have radiotherapy from inside the body (internal radiotherapy). Or radiotherapy from outside the body (external radiotherapy).
Radiotherapy for localised prostate cancer
Radiotherapy aims to cure cancer that hasn't spread outside of the prostate gland (localised prostate cancer). This treatment is called radical radiotherapy. It gives a high dose of radiation to the prostate.
External beam therapy
External radiotherapy uses a machine outside the body to direct radiation beams at cancer to destroy it.
Internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy)
Internal radiotherapy gives radiation to the cancer from inside the prostate gland.
Having both external and internal radiotherapy
Your doctor might offer you both external radiotherapy and internal radiotherapy if you have medium (intermediate) or high risk localised 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 to the prostate and hormone therapy. You'll also have radiotherapy to your lymph nodes if your doctor thinks you might have cancer cells in them.
Radiotherapy if prostate cancer has spread (advanced cancer)
External beam therapy
External radiotherapy can shrink cancer that has spread to other parts of the body or has come back in the prostate after surgery. It can help to reduce pain and other symptoms.
You might have it to treat areas of cancer in the bones. Cancer in the bone can weaken the bone and make it more likely to break (fracture). But radiotherapy can help to strengthen the bone cells.
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. You have radium 223 as an injection into a vein. The radium 223 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.