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Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Radiation therapy may be used alone or in conjunction with surgery, hormone therapy or infusion therapy to treat prostate cancer. 

Recognizing that treatment approaches to prostate cancer are evolving rapidly, our radiation oncologists offer a variety of treatment options, including intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), brachytherapy and proton therapy. 

Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy 

IMRT conforms the radiation dose to the shape of the target tissue, minimizing radiation to nearby normal tissues, including the rectum and bladder. IMRT is associated with excellent outcomes with less toxicity. All patients receiving IMRT are also imaged while on the treatment table immediately prior to each treatment. This imaging allows radiation oncologists to document any changes in the position of the prostate due to weight change, gas or a full bladder. The ability to adjust therapy for each treatment means that a higher radiation dose can be given with less damage to surrounding tissue. Learn more about image-guided radiation therapy.

Low Dose Rate Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy for Prostate CancerAnother treatment option is low dose rate brachytherapy, delivered either alone or in combination with external beam radiation therapy depending on the extent or aggressiveness of the individual's prostate cancer. This form of brachytherapy involves implanting dozens of tiny radioactive seeds in the cancerous prostate. The seeds emit radiation for weeks or months, after which they are no longer radioactive. The positioning of the seeds in close proximity to the cancerous tissue protects healthy tissue from non-therapeutic radiation exposure. Once the seeds have lost their radioactivity, they are harmless and can stay in place indefinitely.

Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is yet another option for treating localized prostate cancer. The properties of protons' depth dose curve make this treatment modality theoretically promising for many cancers, including prostate cancer. There is, however, debate among the research community as to whether proton therapy, which may not be covered by insurance, translates into clinically meaningful improvements in patient outcomes. Patients are encouraged to become engaged and educated about their treatment options and to bring questions to their physicians to make the most of UC San Diego Health's comprehensive, specialized cancer services.

UC San Diego Health offers proton therapy at the Scripps Proton Therapy Center as an affiliate provider. Call 858-822-6040 to be seen by a UC San Diego Health physician and find out if proton therapy should be considered for you.

Appointments & Referrals

Radiation Oncology Locations

La Jolla


Chula Vista

4S Ranch

Patient Guide

Radiation Oncology Patient Handbook 

Radiation Oncology Patient Handbook Spanish 

Patient Education

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