Radioactive seeds are inserted permanently into the prostate gland.
Brachytherapy allows for a continuous and higher localised dose of radiation to the cancer cells.
Prostate brachytherapy requires two admissions to hospital, first for brachytherapy planning (day stay), and another 6-8 weeks later for the treatment (overnight).
The radioactive seeds are contained within thin hollow needles, and are delivered one at a time through the perineal skin (the area behind the scrotum) into the prostate using ultrasound guidance. The seeds are then discharged through the needles into the prostate.
The dosage of the seeds will be customized for the patient, using low-dose rate (LDR) permanent prostate seeds.
The targeted delivery of this treatment reduces side effects and the amount of radiation delivered is carefully measured to kill cancer cells while limiting the radiation reaching the organs near the prostate, including the urethra, balder and rectum.
The entire procedure typically takes between 45-90 minutes.
After Brachytherapy treatment, you will have a short recovery period, and should be able to get back to your normal activities within a week.
The procedure is usually well tolerated with a low risk of surgical complications.
Immediately after your implant, it is normal to experience some side effects from the
- You may initially have some difficulty with your urination, such as a burning
sensation when you pass urine the first few times, and small amounts of blood or clots.
This usually resolves in a day or two.
- A need to urinate frequently and a strong urge to urinate
- It is common to have some bruising in the area of the implant
As with any medical procedure, there is always the chance of long-term risks. With brachytherapy, the rectum and bladder are sometimes permanently damaged.
- Long-lasting rectal complications such as bleeding, increased bowel frequency and urgency are more common than bladder symptoms. Thanks to improvements in technology, these complications occur in less than one in 10 men.
- Impotence (loss of erections) may develop gradually after radiation therapy in approximately half of all patients potent prior to treatment. There are remedies for this, and your doctor can discuss them with you.
- About a third of men will experience bowel disturbance, which can include diarrhea, constipation and or bleeding. This will settle over several months. Pain is not usually a problem but be sure to take the anti-inflammatory after the implant, reducing the dose as it settles down.
- Acute urinary retention is also a possible side effect.
If you’re interested in having brachytherapy at Grace Hospital to treat your prostate cancer, contact your GP for a referral to Mark Fraundorfer.