Course Content
1. Introduction to Prostate Cancer
o Understanding the prostate gland o Overview of prostate cancer o Risk factors and epidemiology
2. Signs and Symptoms
o Common signs and symptoms o When to seek medical attention o Diagnostic tests and screening guidelines
3. Diagnosis and Staging
o Biopsy procedures and interpretation o Staging techniques (TNM system) o Imaging modalities for staging
6. Nutrition and Lifestyle Considerations
o Diet and nutrition recommendations o Exercise and physical activity guidelines o Stress management techniques
Understanding Prostate Cancer: Online Course for Patients & Caregivers
About Lesson


Radiation therapy is a primary treatment modality for localized and locally advanced prostate cancer, offering effective tumor control while preserving surrounding healthy tissues. Understanding the principles, techniques, indications, and outcomes associated with radiation therapy is essential for comprehensive prostate cancer management.

Types of Radiation Therapy:

  1. External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT):

    • EBRT delivers high-energy radiation beams from outside the body to the prostate gland and surrounding tissues.
    • Modern EBRT techniques include:
      • Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
      • Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
      • Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
    • EBRT is typically delivered in multiple sessions (fractions) over several weeks to allow for precise targeting of the tumor while minimizing radiation exposure to adjacent organs.
  2. Brachytherapy:

    • Brachytherapy, also known as internal radiation therapy, involves the placement of radioactive seeds directly into the prostate gland.
    • Two main types of brachytherapy are used in prostate cancer:
      • Low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy: Permanent radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate gland, where they emit continuous low-dose radiation over several months.
      • High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy: Temporary radioactive sources are inserted into the prostate gland for a short period, delivering a high dose of radiation over a few minutes before being removed.

Indications and Patient Selection:

  1. Localized Disease:

    • Radiation therapy is indicated for patients with localized prostate cancer (T1-T2 stage) who are not candidates for or prefer nonsurgical treatment options.
    • It may be used as monotherapy or in combination with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for intermediate and high-risk disease.
  2. Locally Advanced Disease:

    • Patients with locally advanced prostate cancer (T3-T4 stage) may receive radiation therapy as definitive treatment or as part of multimodal therapy, including ADT and/or radical prostatectomy.

Perioperative Considerations:

  1. Treatment Planning:

    • Radiation oncologists use advanced imaging techniques, such as CT scans, MRI, and PET scans, to precisely delineate the target volume and organs at risk for radiation toxicity.
    • Treatment planning software calculates radiation doses and optimizes treatment delivery to maximize tumor control while minimizing toxicity to surrounding normal tissues.
  2. Side Effects and Management:

    • Common side effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer include urinary symptoms (e.g., frequency, urgency), bowel irritation, and sexual dysfunction.
    • Supportive care measures, including medications, lifestyle modifications, and patient education, help manage treatment-related side effects and improve quality of life during and after radiation therapy.

Outcomes and Follow-Up:

  1. Oncologic Outcomes:

    • Radiation therapy provides excellent tumor control and long-term survival outcomes for appropriately selected patients with localized or locally advanced prostate cancer.
    • Disease recurrence following radiation therapy may necessitate salvage treatment options such as salvage prostatectomy or salvage radiation therapy.
  2. Functional Outcomes:

    • Recovery of urinary and sexual function after radiation therapy varies among patients and may continue to improve over time.
    • Ongoing follow-up with radiation oncologists and urologists is essential for monitoring treatment response, detecting potential complications, and addressing survivorship issues.

Online Resources for Further Learning:

Explore the following online resources to learn more about radiation therapy in prostate cancer management:

End of Topic Quiz:

  1. Which type of radiation therapy involves the placement of radioactive seeds directly into the prostate gland?

    • A) Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
    • B) Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
    • C) Low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy
    • D) High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy

    Answer: C) Low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy

  2. What is a common side effect of radiation therapy for prostate cancer?

    • A) Peripheral neuropathy
    • B) Hair loss
    • C) Bowel irritation
    • D) Muscle weakness

    Answer: C) Bowel irritation

Takeaway Assignment:

Assign students to research and present on one aspect of radiation therapy for prostate cancer management (e.g., treatment techniques, side effect management, survivorship care). Encourage students to explore recent advancements in radiation oncology, evidence-based practice guidelines, and patient-centered approaches to care. This assignment will deepen students’ understanding of radiation therapy principles and foster critical thinking in the application of radiation therapy in prostate cancer management.

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