Radiation therapy for prostate cancer involves the use of high-energy beams or radioactive seeds to eliminate tumors, provided by specialty doctors in the fields of urologic oncology and radiation oncology. Early-stage prostate cancer can often be successfully treated with a non-surgical option such as prostate radiation therapy. At UCLA, the most common types of radiation therapy offered for men with prostate cancer are brachytherapy, external beam radiation therapy, image-guided radiation therapy (IMRT), and stereotactic radiotherapy.
Since the early 1990s, UCLA has offered brachytherapy, in which a urologist, working in collaboration with a radiation oncologist and physicist, implants small radioactive pellets, or seeds, into the prostate under ultrasound guidance. The pellets then emit high doses of radiation exclusively to the prostate over the course of several months, minimizing prostate radiation exposure to the surrounding healthy tissues. At UCLA, which has an extensive database of brachytherapy cases, patients return for follow-up visits one month after the procedure so that their doctors can ensure through a CT scan that the radiation is being appropriately distributed.
High-dose-rate (HDR) Brachytherapy can be used as the only treatment for prostate cancer or it can be used in combination with external beam radiation therapy (EBRT). When used as single treatment it is known as "HDR Monotherapy" and when given with external beam it is known as "combined HDR and EBRT".
Learn more about High-dose-rate Brachytherapy for prostate cancer >
External beam radiation therapy involves a series of daily treatments to accurately deliver radiation to the prostate. Treatment planning and delivery techniques such as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) can be utilized to control the dose of radiation to the desired treatment area in the prostate, allowing for optimal treatment while reducing the risk of exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue. Successful treatment requires coordination between the UCLA physicians, medical physicists, and therapists.
Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) is a non-invasive technique that uses 5 treatment sessions of highly focused radiation on a special treatment machine (the Novalis Tx ) that allows for maximal accuracy. The delivery of SBRT is accomplished with image-guidance (IGRT) via 3 implanted gold seed markers in the prostate gland. This image-guidance is integrated with an intensity modulated beam that is shaped to fit and surround the prostate gland, aiming at the prostate gland continuously as the gantry rotates around the patient.
UCLA physicians were some of the first in the world to have pioneered the use of stereotactic radiosurgery techniques for prostate cancer. Learn more about SBRT for prostate cancer >
Cryotherapy (also called cryosurgery or cryoablation), the use of very cold temperatures to freeze and kill prostate cancer cells, is an option for men who have local prostate cancer recurrence after radiation therapy.
For more information about prostate cancer treatment in Los Angeles and to make an appointment with a UCLA prostate cancer specialist, call (310) 794-7700.