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Understanding Radiation Therapy


Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses high-energy X-rays to directly target the cancerous cells in the prostate. The most common type of radiation therapy is called external beam radiation therapy. It is usually used to treat prostate cancer that is confined to the prostate or has spread only to nearby tissue. For advanced-stage prostate cancer, radiation may be used to shrink the tumor and relieve symptoms.

Brachytherapy is a treatment using radioactive seeds placed inside the prostate gland during an outpatient procedure. It is sometimes used alone for low-risk patients or combined with five weeks of IG-IMRT for patients with higher-risk prostate cancers.



What is External Beam Radiation Therapy?

External beam radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) involves a series of daily treatments to accurately deliver radiation to the prostate.

What is IMRT?

Intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, is a state-of-the-art technology that allows doctors to tailor each treatment to an individual patient. Using the CT and MRI, the radiation oncologist instructs the computer how much radiation to be delivered to the prostate and to the surrounding tissues. The computer determines the best way to deliver the treatment by varying, or “modulating,” the intensity of each radiation beam.

What is IGRT?

Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) uses prostate imaging at each treatment session to make sure the prostate has not moved. This ensures that the prostate is always targeted precisely during radiation treatment.

IGRT and IMRT are two advanced techniques used to treat prostate cancer, often combined into the term IG-IMRT.


Why are Calypso and IGRT Important?

Since the prostate gland is somewhat mobile in the pelvic area, Calypso (GPS for the Body®) and IGRT (Image Guided Radiation Therapy) are two advanced technologies that we use to ensure delivery of an accurately focused IMRT beam precisely where the gland is located prior to every daily treatment. The Radiation Oncologist will determine which technology best fits your treatment needs and your physician will then implant the small fiducial markers into your prostate. Calypso uses a GPS-type electronic system for real-time tracking of the prostate and IGRT uses x-ray images for daily localization of the prostate. Both Calypso and IGRT have been shown in studies to reduce side effects associated with radiation therapy.

Benefits of External Beam Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy itself is painless and does not require a hospital stay or recovery time as surgery does. And because it uses beams that target only the cancerous areas, damage to surrounding tissue is minimized. Compared to prostate cancer surgery, there is less chance of incontinence and a better chance of regaining sexual function.

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