Radiation therapy is another treatment that has the potential to cure prostate cancer. Two types of radiation are available. Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is the state of the art for external radiation therapy. Nine weeks of therapy is the normal course, with patients receiving treatments Monday through Friday. Each session typically lasts 15-20 minutes and it is imperative that the patient communicate with the radiation oncologist if it becomes necessary to miss a treatment day. Side effects of radiation therapy may include blood in the urine or stool, fatigue, especially towards the end of treatment, and, in some patients, erectile dysfunction. Usually, erectile dysfunction peaks about one year after treatment but fortunately, medications such as Viagra can help.
Seed or pellet therapy is another form of radiation. During this procedure, general anesthesia is given and the patient undergoes surgery, during which radioactive pellets are placed in the prostate. Patients usually go home after the procedure or the next day. In some cases, the patient must temporarily wear a catheter to drain the bladder. Robotic surgery has similar requirements, but has the advantage of removing the prostate allowing the pathologist to see if there are any other related issues that need to be addressed.