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What are the side effects of radioactive seed implants for prostate cancer?

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Side effects of radioactive seed implants:

  • 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.

SOURCES: 

American Brachytherapy Association. 

American Cancer Society. 

American Urological Association.

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on October 22, 2017

SOURCES: 

American Brachytherapy Association. 

American Cancer Society. 

American Urological Association.

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on October 22, 2017

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