Radiation kills the cancer cells. The goal is to target the cancer and avoid hurting normal parts of the body. Radiation can be given in two ways—external beam radiation or brachytherapy. Sometimes the two kinds of radiation are used together.
External beam radiation uses radiation from a machine to target the prostate gland. This kind of radiation takes place in a hospital or clinic. The radiation is given a few minutes a day for about 6 to 8 weeks.
Brachytherapy (also called radiation “seeding”) uses a needle to put small seeds of radiation into the cancer inside the prostate gland. This usually requires a trip to the hospital or clinic. The seeds inside the prostate gland slowly release radiation over time.
What do we know about radiation?
- Men who get higher amounts of radiation are less likely to have their prostate cancer come back than men who get lower amounts of radiation.
- Men who get higher amounts of external beam radiation are more likely to have diarrhea and rectal pain.
- Research can’t tell us if men who get higher amounts of radiation live longer.
- Research can’t tell us if external beam radiation or seeding works better for localized prostate cancer.
How does radiation compare with other options?
Research can’t tell us if men who have radiation live as long as men who use watchful waiting or have prostate surgery.