What Is 3-D Conformal Radiation Therapy, And When Is It Used To Treat Prostate Cancer?

Eric Horwitz, M.D., Fox Chase Cancer Center

March 18, 2009 -- Question: What is 3-D conformal radiation therapy, and when is it used to treat prostate cancer?

Answer: Three-D conformal radiation is an older technique which combines using CT scans for planning and fancier computer programs that can calculate radiation in three dimensions. It's used for men who have different stages of prostate cancer and some of the newer techniques are generally not available. The side effects of three-D conformal radiation include irritation to the bladder and rectum, which are the two organs that surround the prostate. These include frequent urination, frequent bowel movements, tiredness and difficulty with erections following radiation.