Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy (Radiotherapy) is a type of local and targeted treatment that uses high-energy particles or waves (x-rays, gamma rays or electrons) to kill cells or damage them so they cannot multiply. Radiotherapy is often used as a curative treatment for primary cancer sites, local to the prostate (Stage I, IIa and IIb), or to prevent it from spreading. Radiotherapy is also used in secondary cancer sites (Stage III and IV), often when prostate cancer has metastasised to bone, to reduce pain and as an adjuvant therapy.

Radiation therapy may be administered once, or several times, depending upon the purpose of the treatment as outlined above, and can be administered in different ways. External radiation therapy uses a machine external to your body to send radiation in a targeted fashion toward the cancer, and requires several ~30 minute appointments to deliver 1 treatment, or to receive up to 8 weeks of treatment. Internal radiation therapy uses radioactive material sealed in needles, seeds, wires or catheters that are placed directly into or near the tumour as guided by ultrasound or computed tomography; and may remain in place for several days or permanently.

There are numerous short-term and long-term side-effects, including:-

Short Term Effects Long Term Effects
Pain Cardiac or Lung Scarring
Tiredness / Anaemia Fatigue
Skin Irritation Loss of Flexibility
Pulmonary Toxicity Skeletal Fractures
Loss of Appetite Fertility Problems
Localised Hair Loss Impotence
Diarrhoea Urinary Problems

Exercise during Radiation Therapy:

During radiation therapy, you may experience unfavourable yet common side-effects concerning fatigue, quality of life and physical fitness. Such changes also contribute to psychological distress. Fortunately, exercise is able to act as an adjuvant therapy during supportive care to reduce fatigue, improve quality of life and physical fitness, and increase psychological wellbeing. Aerobic training and resistance training both mitigate these common side-effects, with resistance exercise shown to provide longer-term benefits, and greater changes to strength, body fat and triglycerides when compared to aerobic exercise in isolation. However, it is important that you combine aerobic exercise and resistance exercise to capitalise on unique health benefits afforded to you through each mechanism independent of each other.

Generally, exercise is highly recommended, safe and effective for men undergoing radiation therapy. However, exercise might also be reduced at the beginning of your radiation therapy as you become accustomed to the treatment; and at the end of your treatment period as you acquire the full overall dosage. However, in most cases, on most days, you should be able to participate in your normal exercise regimen as prescribed by your accredited exercise physiologist, or in accordance with the exercise programs provided in this portal.