Dr. Yu on the Drawbacks of Radiation Therapy in Prostate Cancer

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James B. Yu, MD, associate professor, therapeutic oncology, director, Prostate and Genitourinary Cancer Radiotherapy Program, Yale Cancer Center, discusses drawbacks of radiation therapy in prostate cancer.

James B. Yu, MD, associate professor, therapeutic oncology, director, Prostate and Genitourinary Cancer Radiotherapy Program, Yale Cancer Center, discusses drawbacks of radiation therapy in prostate cancer.

Radiation therapy has become more advanced over the last few years, as researchers are better at tracking the tumor and delivering high doses of therapy while sparing normal tissue. With that being said, there are still challenges with this modality, Yu says. Side effects are still seen in patients, largely depending on the site of radiation.

For example, if radiation is delivered near the spinal cord, neurologic deficits can occur. Radiation near the bowels can cause gastrointestinal toxicities like severe diarrhea. The prostate sits in front of the rectum with the urethra and the bladder in close proximity, so prostate cancer is particularly challenging. There are multiple important organs nearby that radiation oncologists need to spare.

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