All the different types of external beam radiation therapy for prostate cancer: a good introduction


Over the past 20 years there has been an explosion in the different ways that we use varied types of external beam radiation therapy for the treatment of localized and locally advanced forms of prostate cancer. Where is the newly diagnosed patient able to find a good, basic introduction?

Last night we ran across a series of articles by Aral on the emedicine web site (a component of the Medscape family of web sites) entitled “Prostate cancer — external beam radiation therapy.” Not only does Dr. Aral provide a basic introduction to the historic use of radiation therapy in the treatment of prostate cancer, he also provides some very basic information (and sometimes more detailed information) on almost every different type of external beam radiation therapy currently in clinical use, including:

  • Conventional radiation therapy
  • Three-dimensional conformal beam radiation therapy (3D-CRT)
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
  • Proton beam radiation therapy (PBRT)
  • Tomotherapy
  • Hypofractionated radiation therapy (including stereotactic body radiation therapy, aka CyberKnife therapy)

Dr. Aral also gets into the role of external beam radiation therapy in combination with androgen deprivation therapy and/or chemotherapy, and the potential future uses of external beam radiation therapy in the management of prostate cancer.

The article was last updated in May this year. It is not “perfect.” It is not going to give someone who is trying to understand the details all of the information that they may need. However, it does provide the basic introduction that we have been unable to find in any other resource. Not only may this resource be useful for the newly diagnosed patient. It may also be of value to men seeking information about their options related to the use of EBRT as adjuvant or salvage therapy after surgery or other first-line treatment options. Above all, it offers enough information for a patinet to start asking a specific radiation oncology practice about the different types of therapy they may be offering and how they see the risks and benefits of those different treatments.

A comparable series of articles by Theodorescu deals with permanent implant brachytherapy and touches on the use of high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy.

2 Responses

  1. Can you use seed implants, radioactive beam and hormone therapy all together for prostate cancer with a PSA of 6.43 ng/ml and a Gleason score of 8?

  2. Yes, you can, although when people do that it is common to use high-dose-rate (HDR) temporary implant brachytherapy (as opposed to permanent seed implantation) with external beam radiation and hormone therapy.

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