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Ask an expert: Prostate cancer video: Radiotherapy

Want to know more about prostate cancer? Dr Nick Plowman, Clinical Oncologist at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London answers some common questions about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of prostate cancer. Use the video clip menu below to select a question.

 

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The expert: Dr Nick Plowman

Clinical Oncologist, St Barts, London

 

Video Transcript

 

The radiotherapy options for curing prostate cancer are two-fold.

 

The one that has gained most interest recently is called Radiation Seed Brachytherapy where radio isotope seeds are actually implanted under direct vision into the prostate gland in a distribution bespoke to the patient’s size and shape gland.

 

The advantage of this technique is that around the seeds a very high dosage of radiation is implanted within the prostate and yet the dose as we call it falls off due to a law of physics called the inverse square law such that the rectum behind and the bladder above do not suffer severe radiation side-effects.

 

It has the high advantage of delivering an extremely high radiation dose within the prostate gland and obliterating the cancer. The long term cure rate is equivalent with that of surgery.

 

Potency preservation is good and we have had, in our experience, no cases of urinary incontinence in some 320 patients.

 

The second form of radiotherapy that is used to cure prostate cancer is called external beam radiotherapy. Nowadays, carried out by a method called intensity modulated radiation therapy, where we are able to modulate the distribution of the high dose radiation and once again bespoke to the patient’s gland size and shape. But this time it is from a machine that stands off the patient and shines the beam at the prostate gland.

 

The accuracy of delivery of this is carefully monitored and the patient attends the radiotherapy department each week day – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday for anything up to 8 weeks to receive this course of treatment.