Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer

Brachytherapy for prostate cancer is radiation treatment. It uses ultrasound to guide the insertion of tiny radioactive seeds into the prostate. This allows additional radiation to be given to the tumor and less radiation to the surrounding normal tissues. The seeds are about the thickness of a pencil lead and just over ⅛ inch long. Brachytherapy is associated with fewer side effects than external beam radiation therapy alone. Usually, there is a delay of about 2 months after the seed implants before external radiation is begun, if external radiation is also used.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Any allergies.

  • All medicines you are taking including vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, and over-the-counter medicines and creams.

  • Use of steroids (through mouth or as creams).

  • Previous problems with medicines that make a person sleep (general anesthetics) or numbing medicines.

  • History of bleeding or blood problems.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Any health problems.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

  • Erectile dysfunction (impotence).

  • Bleeding.

  • Infection.

  • Reaction to anesthesia.

  • Involuntary leakage of urine (urinary incontinence).

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

Ask your caregiver about changing or stopping your regular medicines.

PROCEDURE

  • The procedure is performed under a general or spinal anesthetic.

  • An ultrasound is used to guide the long, thin metal tubes into the prostate gland. These tubes help place the seeds.

  • The metal tubes are then removed.

  • The seeds can be left in place permanently.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You will have a catheter in your bladder. The catheter will be removed later in your urologist's office.

  • Avoid being around children and pregnant women. Over time, the radiation will decrease and become inactive.

  • X-rays and CT scans may be taken to show the location of the seeds.

  • A specialist can calculate the exact amount of radiation received.

What to expect:

  • A little blood in the urine for a couple days is normal.

  • Your urine stream may be weaker for a couple weeks.