Brachytherapy is a procedure to implant radioactive seeds (pellets) into the prostate gland to kill prostate cancer cells. The seeds may give off high or low amounts of radiation.
Implant therapy - prostate cancer; Radioactive seed placement; Internal radiation therapy - prostate; High dose radiation (HDR)
Brachytherapy takes 30 minutes or more, depending on the type of therapy you have. Before the procedure, you will be given medicine so that you do not feel pain. You may receive:
After you receive anesthesia:
Types of brachytherapy:
Why the Procedure Is Performed
Brachytherapy is often used for men with prostate cancer that is found early and is slow-growing. Brachytherapy has fewer complications and side effects than standard radiation therapy. You will also need fewer visits with the health care provider.
Risks of any anesthesia are:
Risks of any surgery are:
Risks of this procedure are:
Before the Procedure
Tell your provider what medicines you are taking. These include medicines, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
Before this procedure:
On the day of the procedure:
After the Procedure
You may be sleepy and have mild pain and tenderness after the procedure.
After an outpatient procedure, you can go home as soon as the anesthesia wears off. In rare cases, you will need to spend 1 to 2 days in the hospital. If you stay in the hospital, your visitors will need to follow special radiation safety precautions.
If you have a permanent implant, your provider may tell you to limit the amount of time you spend around children and women who are pregnant. After a few weeks to months, the radiation is gone and will not cause any harm. Because of this, there is no need to take out the seeds.
Most men with small, slow-growing prostate cancer remain cancer-free or their cancer is in good control for many years after this treatment. Urinary and rectal symptoms may last for months or years.
D'Amico AV, Nguyen PL, Crook JM, et al. Radiation therapy for prostate cancer. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 116.
Nelson WG, Antonarakis ES, Carter HB, De Marzo AM, DeWeese TL. Prostate cancer. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 81.
U.S. National Library of Medicine, PubMed website. PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Prostate cancer treatment (PDQ): health professional version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2002-2019. PMID: 26389471 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26389471.
Review Date: 1/31/2019
Reviewed By: Sovrin M. Shah, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Urology, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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