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What is 3D conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) for prostate cancer?

Marc B. Garnick, MD
Hematology & Oncology
Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) in the treatment of prostate cancer is ideal for older patients or those with multiple medical conditions, patients whose cancer has spread outside the prostate capsule, and men who have had a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). It takes 35-45 treatments (five times a week for seven to nine weeks); each treatment takes about 15 minutes. Possible side effects include bowel problems (diarrhea, blood in stool, rectal leakage, rectal pain), frequent urination, blood in the urine, urinary incontinence (increases over time), impotence (develops slowly), and fatigue. Treatment is widely available and is now the standard in outpatient radiation therapy. Disadvantage is the length of treatment makes it inconvenient, especially for men living far away from a treatment facility or those who travel frequently.

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