Side Effects

Patients should be aware that like with any medical procedure, there are some risks and side effects associated with radiotherapy.

They fall into two groups: those which happen during the course of the treatment (short term side effects); and those which may last long term, after the treatment course has been completed.

Short Term Side Effects

It is normal to feel a little tired through the treatment; Men who are working prior to treatment are usually able to continue, but should rest if they need to.

After a couple of weeks most men notice some irritation of the bowel, with more frequency, wind, urgency and discomfort. There may also be some bleeding. We advise men who experience significant bowel upset to take a low residue diet, and there is a dietician who may advise you about this.

Passing urine may also be uncomfortable, slower than normal and more frequent.

You can have sexual intercourse, but may experience some discomfort on ejaculation. Some redness of the skin may also be noticed. A little hair loss in the treated area is not uncommon. Medications are available to help with symptoms, but some discomfort is to be expected. Most of these side effects settle within a few weeks after the end of the course.

Long Term Side Effects


About a quarter of men notice a permanent change in their bowel habit.  This may be some continued urgency, and perhaps using the bowels more than once a day.  There may also be a little bleeding with the motion.  In 2-3% of men, bleeding or other symptoms may be severe enough to require treatment.


Urinary side effects are uncommon, with very occasional strictures or leaking of a few drops of urine.

Sexual Function

Erections may be affected, however this happens in fewer than half of men who had normal erectile function before radiotherapy, and may be helped by medication or injections. It is also likely that the radiation will stop men from producing sperm, making them sterile.

Another Cancer

Radiation may cause another cancer after many years.  However, recent very large studies of men having radiation for prostate cancer showed no excessive rate of second cancers.  If present at all, the risk is out-weighed heavily by the potential benefit of the treatment.

And they find in it exactly what was predicted by their counterparts from california

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