Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Prostate Cancer: Combo Treatment Works

One of the longest ever follow-up studies of radioactive seed implants for prostate cancer shows the treatment to be highly effective in combination with conventional external radiation.
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 8, 2007 -- One of the longest ever follow-up studies of radioactive "seed" implants for prostate cancerprostate cancer shows the treatment to be highly effective in combination with conventional external radiation.

Three out of four patients in the study remained disease free at least 15 years after treatment ended, with intermediate-risk patients faring almost as well as those considered to have a low risk of dying from their cancercancer.

The outcomes compared favorably to the best results reported among surgically treated patients, says John E. Sylvester, MD, of the Seattle Prostate Institute.

Sylvester and colleagues followed 223 patients with localized prostate tumors for at least a decade and a half after treating the men with external beam radiotherapy and internal seed implants.

"The results that we found in this group of intermediate- to high-risk patients with localized disease have not been beaten by any other treatment," Sylvester tells WebMD.

Each year in the U.S. roughly 240,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). And for most new patients, decisions about which treatment to have or whether or not to even be treated at all are not clear-cut.

Treatment Options

Prostate cancer treatments include surgery to remove the prostate gland, external radiation, cryotherapy (in which the tumor is treated by freezing it), radioactive seed implants, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and watchful waiting.

Seed implants, also called brachytherapy, are small radioactive pellets about the size of a grain of rice. The pellets are implanted into the prostate; they deliver radiation to the prostate cancer from the inside.

Most good-prognosis patients who choose seed implants do not receive other treatments, Sylvester says. But patients considered to have more aggressive tumors may get seed implants and external-beam radiation.

The patients in the newly reported follow-up study received seed implants about four weeks after completion of the short daily external beam radiation treatment. Most were able to carry on their normal daily activities while undergoing treatment.

Making Informed Choices About Treatment

Fifteen years later, the overall relapse-free survival rate among the men was 74%, with survival rates even higher than this for men with low- to intermediate-risk cancers.

Today on WebMD

man with doctor
Symptoms, risks, treatments
man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore
prostate cancer cells
What does this diagnosis mean?
doctor and male patient
Is it worth it?
cancer fighting foods
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Prostate Enlarged
Picture Of The Prostate
Prostate Cancer Quiz
screening tests for men
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Vitamin D