What is the prevalence of complications from conventional external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) for the treatment of prostate cancer?

Updated: Aug 17, 2020
  • Author: Isamettin Andrew Aral, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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The morbidity of radiation treatment is intimately linked to the volume of normal tissue treated. Conventional radiotherapy includes irradiation of large volumes of tissue, including the skin, small bowel, bladder, large bowel, pelvic bones, and additional areas of soft tissue (including nerves). Each organ can experience irritation during and, potentially, after a course of radiotherapy.

A brief review of commonly encountered morbidities is appropriate. Patients are told that any of the following conditions may arise during the course of radiation therapy and may persist for up to 3 months afterward (ie, acute morbidity). A significantly smaller percentage of patients (3-5%) have symptoms that persist beyond 3 months or develop new symptoms after the completion of therapy.

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