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By Scot Ackerman, M.D.


External Beam Radiation Therapy in Combination with Brachytherapy vs. Brachytherapy Alone for Treating Prostate Cancer

The Latest Research for You: Prostate Cancer Red Journal 2018

  • External Beam Radiation Therapy: A type of conventional radiation therapy using a linear accelerator to direct the radiation beam at the prostate.
  • Brachytherapy: A technique in which radioactive seeds are placed into the prostate to deposit radiation slowly, over a period of a few months.

Research Synopsis:

At the most recent ASTRO Conference, I attended a seminar that compared the use of brachytherapy alone vs. external beam radiation therapy in combination with brachytherapy to treat prostate cancer. The theory being that giving this combination would effectively deliver an additional dose of radiation to the tissues surrounding the prostate where the seeds cannot reach.

The researchers evaluated the side effects of these two different treatment techniques and how they affected a patient’s quality of life.

Patients were evaluated at 4 and 24 months after treatment. Results show that both at 4 months and at 24 months after treatment, side effects, such as burning during urination, frequency of urination, incontinence, diarrhea and bloody stool, were greater in the group that received the combination of external beam radiation with brachytherapy.

Dr. Ackerman’s Takeaways:

  • This is a good study that answers questions and corrects assumptions that radiation oncologists may have held.
  • These studies can greatly help men when making decisions about prostate cancer treatment. It is time to avoid these kinds of chronic side effects whenever possible because they directly affect a person's  quality of life.
  • Proton Beam Therapy is not included in the study because it is so precise and not used with brachytherapy.
  • However, in other studies conducted in institutions where proton beam therapy was accessible and used, it has been shown to have less side effects and better quality of life outcomes for prostate cancer above any other radiation therapy options. This is why we provide access to Proton Therapy.

This Red Journal Article is linked here for your convenience: https://www.redjournal.org/article/S0360-3016(18)31104-0/fulltext

Read more about treating prostate cancer with proton therapy: https://theijpt.org/doi/full/10.14338/IJPT-16-00006.1

For more information on the type of radiation treatments we offer, please visit Ackerman Cancer Center’s prostate section or call us at (904) 880-5522.

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