Therapy - X-ray therapy

In curing prostate tumors two types of X-ray therapy are used: Brachitherapy and X-ray therapy (XRT).

Brachitherapy

This type of therapy consists of implanting very small capsules (called “seeds”) that are radioactive, into the prostate glands affected by the tumor. The “seeds” emit radiation that kills the tumor cells and “freezes” them for a period of ten years. The therapy is used in patients with small tumors limited to the prostate (Stage T1 or T2).

To create a three-dimensional map of the prostate a Trans-rectal Prostate Echographia (TRUS) is used, and then a computer calculates the volume of the gland and consequently the number and placement of the implanted seeds.

The procedure is carried out in local anesthesia and lasts 45 to 60 minutes.

A needle is inserted into the perineum and at pre-established points, 50 to 100 seeds are implanted that are as large as grains of rice. The seeds contain a radioactive isotope (usually Palladio 103 or Iodio 125) that emits the radiation for about three months, after which they become inert.

Recovery: After the brachitherapy patients are discharged on the same day and usually return to their normal daily activities after a day. A recent study has shown that most patients who undergo Brachitherapy are “free” of the tumor for five years after the treatment.

Complications: In a small percentage of patients, generally over 70, the therapy can cause incontinence or impotence.


External X-ray therapy (XRT)

External X-ray therapy is used when the tumor has spread outside the capsule of the prostate to the surrounding tissues. The treatment, carried out in a doctor's office, lasts 7 to 8 weeks. An instrument projects high energy X-rays onto the tissue of the prostate. The radiation destroys the tumor cells and reduces the tumor. Recently, in curing prostate tumors in several specialized centers, use was made of stereostassic radiosurgery (CyberKnife®). This method uses a computer with a special program to define precisely the form, size and position of the tumor. Then an arm automatically projects highly concentrated rays from many different angles and positions. These rays strike the tumor and do not damage the healthy tissue.

Complications – Malfunction in erection (impotency, especially in older men), difficulty during urination, frequent urination, diarrhea (especially during the final phases of the treatment).