Understanding Cancer

Prostate cancer

The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that helps make and store seminal fluid. Generally prostate cancer will develop from the gland cells.

What to expect before, during, and after radiotherapy treatment:

Explore The Patient Pathway

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst New Zealand men with around 3,000 cases registered each year. Many prostate cancers do not cause any symptoms for many years. Most are slow growing and rarely spread to other parts of the body.

In more detail

Prostate cancers are commonly slow growing, but can cause problems once the cancer grows too big. This will cause the prostate to squeeze the urethra, which it surrounds, making passing urine difficult.

Although it is rare, prostate cancer can metastasise to other parts of the body. Those that do, tend to appear in the lymph nodes, lungs, bones and the liver.

Radiation treatment is used in cases where a low-grade cancer is still confined within the prostate gland. It may also be combined with hormone therapy to treat prostate cancers that have grown into nearby tissues. This can reduce the size of the tumour where a cancer is not completely removed or recurs after surgery. For slow-growing tumours, radiation is often used simply to reduce the size of the cancer and provide relief from symptoms.

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The Patient Pathway

First Specialist Appointment

At the first specialist appointment you will meet with your specialist radiation oncologist (RO) to discuss the proposed radiotherapy treatment approach and answer any questions and concerns you may have.


At the treatment planning appointment a patient care specialist (nurse or radiation therapist) will explain the procedures in more detail and answer any concerns that you might have about ARO or your treatment.


During the days following your orientation and treatment planning appointment our team of experts (physicists, radiation therapist planners and your radiation oncologist) work together to develop the ideal treatment plan for you. This involves a highly sophisticated planning software system and review process to guarantee safe and effective delivery of treatment. Depending on the site and complexity of the treatment, this stage can take up to two weeks.

First Day of Treatment

You’ll need to arrive 10-15 minutes before your allocated treatment time so that we can greet you and to give you time to get changed for your treatment.

If you are driving, we recommend you enter Gate 3, 98 Mountain Road and drive up the ramp to the mid level car park. Please walk across the link bridge to Auckland Radiation Oncology (ARO). Please report to the ARO reception desk. See location and parking for more information.

During Treatment

Weekly reviews with your radiation oncologist or one of our patient care team will be conducted to monitor any side effects and provide on-going support and advice as required.

Last Week of Treatment

An appointment will be scheduled for you to meet with a member of our patient care team to ensure appropriate care is organised after your last treatment visit. This may include regular monitoring of blood results, appointments for dressings and management of side effects.

Following Treatment