Top 4 FAQs About Prostate Cancer Radiation Therapy

Prostate Cancer

Top 4 FAQs About Prostate Cancer Radiation Therapy

Prostate cancer is one of the most frequently-diagnosed cancer types affecting men. According to the American Cancer Society, roughly 1 in 8 men will contract prostate cancer during their lifetime. Radiation therapy is a widely used treatment for prostate cancer, and many patients and their families have questions about this approach. This article will address five frequently asked questions about prostate cancer radiation therapy.

1. What is Prostate Cancer Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy involves high-energy rays, such as X-rays or protons, to kill cancer cells. In prostate cancer, radiation therapy is often used as the primary treatment. However, oncologists can also suggest combining it with other treatment options, such as hormone therapy or surgery.

Radiation therapy for prostate cancer comes in two forms:

  • External beam radiation therapy (EBRT): In this approach, a machine known as a linear accelerator emits high-energy rays from outside the body to the prostate gland. The treatments are usually administered five days a week for several weeks.
  • Brachytherapy involves placing radioactive seeds or pellets directly into the prostate gland. The radiation from these seeds gradually kills the cancer cells over several months. Brachytherapy can be done as a permanent implant (low-dose-rate brachytherapy) or a temporary implant (high-dose-rate brachytherapy).

2. What are the Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy can result in both short-term and long-term side effects. Short-term side effects are usually temporary and may include fatigue, skin reactions (such as redness or itching), and urinary symptoms (such as increased frequency, urgency, or discomfort). These side effects typically improve within a few weeks after completing radiation therapy.

Long-term side effects may include:

  • Erectile dysfunction: Some men may experience difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection after radiation therapy. This side effect can be interim or permanent.
  • Urinary incontinence: After radiation therapy, some men may experience difficulty controlling their urine flow or leakage.
  • Bowel problems: Radiation therapy can cause rectum inflammation, leading to diarrhea, rectal bleeding, or pain with bowel movements.
  • Secondary cancers: Although rare, radiation therapy can increase the risk of developing secondary cancers, such as bladder or rectal cancer.

3. How Effective is Prostate Cancer Radiation Therapy?

The potency of radiation therapy for prostate cancer depends on several factors, such as the severity of the cancer, the patient’s health condition, and the type of radiation therapy used. In general, radiation therapy effectively controls localized prostate cancer and may sometimes cure the disease.

A study by the American Society for Radiation Oncology found that the 5-year survival rate for isolated prostate cancer treated with radiation therapy is approximately 98%. The 10-year survival rate is about 84%, and the 15-year survival rate is around 62%. However, it is important to note that individual outcomes may vary based on each patient’s specific circumstances.

4. Can Prostate Cancer Recur After Radiation Therapy?

Although radiation therapy effectively controls prostate cancer in many cases, the disease can sometimes recur. Recurrence can occur locally (within the prostate gland) or distantly (in other body areas). 

If prostate cancer recurs after radiation therapy, additional treatments may be necessary. These may include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, or additional radiation therapy. Surgery may be a possibility if the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate gland.


If you are considering radiation therapy for prostate cancer, it is important to discuss the potential benefits and risks with your doctor and to plan for managing any side effects that may arise. With proper care and support, many men can successfully recover from prostate cancer radiation therapy and return to a normal, healthy life.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, consider CenterPoint Radiation Oncology for your radiation therapy needs. Our team of experienced professionals are committed to providing personalized care and support throughout your prostate cancer radiation therapy journey. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

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