Radiation therapy for prostate cancer

Radiation therapy treatment is often used in men with early prostate cancer that hasn’t spread, although it can also be used in combination with other treatments or if your cancer has returned. Radiation therapy may be combined with hormone therapy for high-risk prostate cancers and some unfavourable intermediate risk prostate cancers.

As you may have the option between surgery and radiation therapy treatment, it’s important to talk with your urologist and your radiation oncologist to help you weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of different treatment options and possible side effects like incontinence and erectile dysfunction, availability and cost to help you make an informed decision about the best treatment for you.

There are many different radiation therapy techniques that may be suitable for your prostate cancer.

External beam radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is used to treat prostate cancer by delivering highly targeted radiation therapy beams directly to your prostate cancer.

Types of EBRT which can be used for the treatment of prostate cancer include:

Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is used to ensure EBRT is delivered as accurately as possible to your prostate cancer. This involves the use of advanced imaging equipment and computer software such as MRI, CT and x-ray.

Ensuring your radiation therapy treatment is highly-accurate

As part of your external beam radiation therapy treatment, you may have Calypso® radiofrequency transponders surgically placed in your prostate tumours to track and adjust the radiation beams due to natural movements of the body, such as breathing. Fiducial markers (gold seeds) may also be used, which help to more accurately locate the prostate gland during your radiation therapy treatment.

If your treatment is being delivered using the Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator (radiation therapy machine), triggered imaging technology may be used. This helps identify that a tumour is being accurately and precisely targeted by radiation and is specifically used for prostate cancers. Using markers implanted in the prostate, radiation therapists can visualise your tumour throughout treatment using low dose x-ray images, which allow the machine to automatically detect the position of the markers.

Reducing your risk of side effects

Your doctor may talk to you about having a prostate spacer such as SpaceOAR Hydrogel implanted by a urologist ahead of your treatment. A prostate spacer is a gel-like substance that is implanted between the prostate and rectum to reduce side effects during radiation therapy treatment.

Stereotactic radiation therapy

Stereotactic radiation therapy is an advanced technique used to treat small tumours with well-defined edges and can be used for both primary and metastatic (advanced) prostate cancer. It is different to conventional radiation therapy for prostate cancer, where the whole prostate is generally treated. Stereotactic radiation therapy reduces the overall treatment time for prostate cancer to one and a half weeks, delivering high doses of radiation in less than 15 minutes, and monitors the patient’s prostate motion using small gold markers to ensure the radiation is delivered accurately. Stereotactic radiation therapy for primary prostate cancer is available at Icon Cancer Centre Midland, Icon Cancer Centre Gold Coast PrivateIcon Cancer Centre Greenslopes, Icon Cancer Centre Maroochydore, Icon Cancer Centre North Lakes, Icon Cancer Centre Redland, Icon Cancer Centre Maitland, and Icon Cancer Centre Noarlunga.

Stereotactic radiation therapy can also be used to treat advanced prostate cancer where the disease has started to spread to other parts of the body. Traditionally patients would be treated with hormone therapy and chemotherapy, which are often associated with negative side effects. Icon Group’s TRANSFORM study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, found that stereotactic radiation therapy can delay progression to these treatments for more than two years.

Icon is proud to offer access to this treatment approach at centres in New South Wales, ACT, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia. If you would like to enquire about stereotactic radiation therapy treatment, please contact your local Icon team or send us a message.

Learn more about the latest in treatment for advanced prostate cancer.

Seed brachytherapy

Brachytherapy is a special form of internal radiation therapy where radioactive seeds are placed in the prostate to treat your cancer. Focal brachytherapy uses the same technique, however the radioactive seeds are placed into the tumour to directly target your cancer instead of the whole prostate, preserving the rest of the prostate gland and reducing side effects.

Men with prostate cancer can now access new precision focal brachytherapy at Icon Cancer Centre through the LIBERATE clinical registry, which aims to support the use of this cutting-edge prostate cancer treatment and reduce side effects to preserve men’s quality of life. As part of the LIBERATE clinical registry, focal brachytherapy treatment is available at Icon Cancer Centre GeelongIcon Cancer Centre Richmond and Icon Cancer Centre Freemasons.

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