What are the Pros and Cons of Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer?

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  • Written By: Nick Mann
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 12 March 2020
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Prostate cancer is a common type of cancer that occurs in many older men. There are several types of therapy designed to effectively treat it, one of the most popular of which is radiation therapy. Like most treatments, radiation therapy for prostate cancer has its pros and cons. The main advantages are that it quickly kills the cancer cells and usually prevents the cancer from spreading to other areas in the body. Disadvantages are that radiation can also result in normal cells being killed and produce other short term side effects like sexual dysfunction, urinary problems and bowel problems.

Radiation therapy for prostate cancer works by targeting and killing the cancerous cells. There are two types of radiation treatment available. External beam radiation therapy points a concentrated beam at the cancer cells from outside the body. Brachytherapy is the other type of treatment, and works by placing the radiation inside the body directly at the cancer's source.

The biggest advantage of radiation therapy for prostate cancer is that it's a quick way eliminate the malignant cells. This treatment is also beneficial because it usually stops the cancer from spreading elsewhere and can prevent future cancer in other parts of the body. Radiation can also be a necessary option if the patient is unable to undergo surgery or other types of treatment.


It's important for potential patients to be aware of the negative side effects that can result from radiation therapy for prostate cancer. One of the downsides of radiation is that it can also kill some normal cells in the process of destroying malignant cells. Doctors will naturally try to minimize the amount of normal cells affected.

In addition to this, there are several negative short term side effects that can result from radiation. Sexual dysfunction is a common problem experienced by many men undergoing this treatment, and primarily includes difficulty achieving and maintaining erections. Problems reaching orgasm and a temporary reduction in the amount of sperm can also result from radiation.

Urinary problems are also fairly common after radiation therapy. Feelings of burning and discomfort while urinating can often last for over a month. Frequent urination is another common side effect. These issues are uncomfortable, but usually clear up on their own over time.

Radiation therapy for prostate cancer can also result in some mild bowel problems. Issues like bloody stools, small amounts of excrement, and diarrhea are the most common issues patients experience. Sometimes a doctor will prescribe a medication to ease the discomfort, but the bowel problems that result from radiation also usually clear up on their own.



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