Prostate Cancer: Radioactive Seed Implants
What Are The Results?
Results from this treatment approach show that in patients with similar types of prostate cancer, brachytherapy alone or in combination with external beam radiation therapy appears as effective as a radical prostatectomy and regular external radiation therapy.
What Are The Side Effects?
Urinary symptoms are the most common. These include frequent urination and a need to get to the bathroom quickly. Some men have a burning with urination and, in a few cases, an inability to empty the bladder completely.
These symptoms can usually be managed with medicine, and they improve over time. Temporary self-catheterization may be necessary to help drain the bladder.
Urinary incontinence from brachytherapy is rare. The risk may be somewhat increased in patients who have undergone a previous surgical procedure to remove a part of the prostate called a TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate). A doctor can minimize this risk by doing a careful prostate ultrasound before the procedure to determine how much prostate tissue is still present to implant the seeds.
Rectal bleeding occurs in less than 1% of patients. Diarrhea is rare.
The impotence rate at five years after the procedure is about 25% using brachytherapy alone. If hormone therapy is added, the impotence rate rises depending on the duration of the hormonal treatment.