Types of Radiation Treatment for Prostate Cancer

At Penn, men with prostate cancer have access to new and advanced treatment options and ongoing clinical trials in radiation therapy including proton therapy. As part of Penn Medicine's commitment to advancing cancer care in patients, radiation oncologists are also researching how radiation treatment affects the quality of life for cancer patients.

These are some types of radiation therapy that may be used to treat prostate cancer.

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) uses frequent imaging during a course of radiation therapy to improve the precision and accuracy of the delivery the radiation treatment.

In IGRT, the linear accelerator (machine that delivers radiation) is equipped with imaging technology that take pictures of the tumor immediately before or during the time radiation is delivered.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

Radiation therapy, including IMRT, stops cancer cells from dividing and growing, thus slowing or stopping tumor growth. In many cases, radiation therapy is capable of killing all of the cancer cells.

Using 3-D computed tomography (CT) images in conjunction with computerized dose calculations, IMRT allows for the radiation dose to conform more precisely to the three-dimensional shape of the tumor by controlling, or modulating the intensity of the radiation beam in multiple small volumes.

The therapy allows higher radiation doses to be focused on regions within the tumor while minimizing the dose to surrounding normal critical structures.


Cyberknife delivers beams of high dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy.

CyberKnife therapy is pain free, non-invasive and can be done as an outpatient procedure. CyberKnife can treat hard to reach tumors, and requires no anesthesia during treatment.

Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is external beam radiotherapy in which protons are directed at a tumor. The radiation dose that is given through protons is very precise, and limits the exposure of normal tissues. This allows the radiation dose delivered to the tumor to be increased beyond conventional radiation. The result is a better chance for curing cancer with fewer harmful side effects.

Unlike X-rays, protons can be manipulated to release most of their energy only when they reach their target. With more energy reaching the cancerous cells, more damage is administered by each burst of radiation.

Read a patient testimonial about proton therapy for prostate cancer here.

Learn More About Prostate Cancer Treatment at Penn

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer or an abnormal PSA, you're probably wondering what to do next. Look to Penn's Abramson Cancer Center for the most advanced cancer program in the region - for full insight on all your options including a second opinion for prostate cancer treatment.

Our team will:

  • Help you understand your PSA levels and guide you towards the next steps you should take
  • Ensure you have the most accurate diagnosis using advanced diagnostics
  • Offer you the most advanced surgical and radiation treatment options – all in one place
  • Answer your questions about the potential side effects of all your options
  • Provide an unbiased opinion on your best treatment option

Call 800-789-7366 (PENN) to schedule a consultation with a Penn prostate cancer specialist.

About This Blog

The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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