Radical radiotherapy

External Beam Radiotherapy (EBRT)

EBRT, or Radical Radiotherapy, is a non-surgical treatment for prostate cancer using high-energy X-rays. For some of our patients, it is an obvious choice; however your condition will need careful evaluation to see whether this is the best option for you. All our specialists can advise you but Dr Heather Payne is our expert in this specific treatment and will give you clear, unbiased information about the risks and benefits to guide you in your decision.

Radiation treatment is almost always more effective after several weeks of hormonetherapy, such as Casodex, which shrinks the tumour down within the prostate and thereby reduces the volume of cancer cells that need to be destroyed.

Who is it suitable for?

Most often used in older, less fit men or as a second-line treatment, when cancer is found on or after surgery to have spread beyond the gland, EBRT is generally less appropriate in younger, fit men with gland-confined disease. This is because the radiation causes changes to the prostate tissue which preclude surgery at a later stage in the event of recurrence. Radiotherapy can also be used for pain relief when more advanced cancer causes symptoms such as bone pain.

How does it work?

High-energy beams of X-rays are aimed from outside the body at the prostate gland and the immediate surrounding tissues. The X-rays damage the cells; but while cancer cells are unable to recover from this damage, the cells in the normal surrounding tissues (bladder and bowel) are able to repair themselves more easily.

Radiotherapy is given as an out-patient procedure, lasting a few minutes each day, five days a week, for 5-7 weeks. The treatment is painless and patients should be able to work and continue with normal activities. Most men experience some side-effects during the course, including tiredness, skin soreness, bowel changes with some diarrhoea, frequency and stinging when passing urine. These all start to get better a few weeks after the end of the treatment; however some men develop long-term or permanent side effects which can occur many months after treatment – including problems with sexual function and the bowel.

Where is it done?

Dr Payne gives courses of radiotherapy at University College London or at the Harley Street Clinic.

How much does it cost?

A full course of radiotherapy costs around £15-£18,000 including specialists’ fees. If you are insured, your costs should be covered in full.