External beam radiation therapy is given over perhaps 6 or 7 weeks. High energy x-rays are aimed at the tumor and the area immediately surrounding it. The goal of radiation therapy is to damage the cancer cells and stop their growth or kill them.
Generally, the best candidates for radiation therapy are men whose cancer has not escaped the prostate or has spread to just immediately surrounding tissue.
Advantages of External-Beam Radiation:
- It can potentially cure the cancer.
- It is done on an outpatient basis.
- You do not have to go through the stress of a major operation.
Disadvantages of External-Beam Radiation:
- The cancer cannot be pathologically staged.
- You may not be able to get an erection.
- You may become temporarily or permanently incontinent.
- The treatment may damage surrounding tissue and organs.
- If radiation does not work, then surgery is no longer an option.