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Radiotherapy for early prostate cancer

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. The aim of radiotherapy for early prostate cancer is to destroy all the cancer cells and cure the cancer. Doctors call this radical radiotherapy. At the same time, they try to make sure radiotherapy causes as little harm as possible to healthy tissue and organs close by. These include the bladder, back passage (rectum), and bowel.

Radiotherapy for prostate cancer can be given in different ways:

External-beam radiotherapy is the most common way of giving radiotherapy for early prostate cancer. If you have brachytherapy, it may be given on its own or along with external radiotherapy.

Your cancer doctor may advise you to have hormonal therapy for up to 6 months before radiotherapy. Hormonal therapy can shrink the cancer, which helps make radiotherapy more effective. You may be given hormonal therapy before, during and, after radiotherapy.

If you smoke, you should try to stop. Not smoking during and after radiotherapy can make treatment more effective and reduce the side effects.

Many hospitals provide help or advice on how to quit smoking. Ask your cancer doctor, radiographer, or specialist nurse if your hospital provides this service. If they do not, your GP, a pharmacist, or an organisation such as Smokefree will be able to help. We have more information to help you give up smoking.

Back to Radiotherapy explained

Before your radiotherapy

Before you start radiotherapy, your team will explain what your treatment involves and how it may affect you.

Your radiotherapy team

You will meet many different specialists from your radiotherapy team. You may see them before, during and after radiotherapy treatment.