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Prostate cancer

Radiation therapy for prostate cancer

We perform two primary types of radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer: external beam radiation therapy and high-dose rate brachytherapy. Some of the other types of radiation therapy we perform include:

  • CyberKnife®: A tumor in or near the prostate can move as you breathe, making it difficult to accurately target with standard radiation. As a result, the tumor may not receive enough radiation and healthy tissue near the tumor may be damaged. The CyberKnife software and respiratory tracking system allows us to confirm the location of the prostate tumor and continually track its movement, in real time, so we can more precisely deliver radiation without damaging healthy surrounding tissue. Also, unlike standard radiation therapy that divides the total radiation dose into smaller doses over numerous sessions, CyberKnife allows us to destroy tumors with high radiation doses in four to five sessions, depending on the location of the tumor and other factors.
  • Low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy: Because the prostate gland is located close to the bladder and rectum, it is important for radiation treatment to be tightly focused on the prostate to avoid serious side effects. LDR brachytherapy offers a fast, more precise way to administer prostate cancer radiation therapy for some patients. Depending on the type and stage of prostate cancer, brachytherapy may be combined with other treatments, such as Calypso® or hormone therapy, which may vary treatment times. LDR brachytherapy is applicable to virtually all stages of localized prostate cancer. In many cases, brachytherapy may be an alternative to surgical removal of the prostate.
  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): If you have previously had radiation therapy for prostate cancer and are experiencing recurrent tumors in the treated area, IMRT may be an option for you. Compared to standard radiotherapy, IMRT allows our radiation oncologists to use higher radiation doses than traditional therapies would allow in these areas. At the same time, IMRT helps to spare more of the surrounding healthy prostate tissue from harmful doses of radiation.
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT): During SBRT for prostate cancer, we use the Calypso® system to deliver concentrated, highly focused prostate cancer radiation therapy. SBRT is an option for patients who have early-stage prostate cancer. This technology may also be used to treat medically inoperable tumors or tumors that have recurred after previous radiation treatments.
  • SpaceOAR®: Because the prostate gland is located close to the bladder and rectum, it is important for radiation treatment to be focused directly toward the prostate and away from other areas to reduce the occurrence of serious side effects. SpaceOAR creates a space around the prostate during high-dose prostate cancer radiation treatment. It is injected between the prostate and rectum and is designed to reduce damage to healthy tissue.
  • TomoTherapy®: TomoTherapy offers the following potential advantages for prostate cancer patients:
    • Uses built-in CT scanning to confirm the exact shape and location of a prostate tumor seconds before your treatment begins.
    • Targets hard-to-reach prostate tumors by sculpting small, powerful and precise radiation beams at the tumors from a full 360 degrees.
    • Lessens treatment-related side effects by reducing damage to nearby healthy tissue.
    • Avoids radiation exposure to muscle tissue, the spine, lungs and other sensitive organs.
  • TrueBeam™: The prostate may move during radiation treatment as a result of breathing and normal movement in the intestines. Radiation oncologists typically expand the treatment area to ensure the moving target is irradiated. In the process, healthy tissue near the prostate also may be affected, leading to a high rate of urinary, bowel and sexual side effects. By targeting cancer cells and avoiding nearby healthy tissues, TrueBeam with Calypso beacon tracking spares the bladder, colon and other critical structures. Common side effects of prostate cancer radiation therapy, such as bowel or bladder urgency, or erectile dysfunction, may be reduced through the use of TrueBeam technology.