Brachytherapy Treatment For Prostate Cancer
Brachytherapy treatment for prostate cancer involves the use of radioactive seeds to deliver radiotherapy directly into the cancerous prostate gland.
The seeds produce low level, continuous radiation for one year, destroying cancerous cells. As only a small area is affected by the radiation from each seed, very little radiation reaches adjacent normal organs.
Who can have this treatment?
Brachytherapy is suitable for patients with early stage prostate cancer, known as T1 and T2 with a Gleason score of 6 or below. Brachytherapy is not suitable for patients who are experiencing severe urinary symptoms. Brachytherapy can also be used as a boost to external beam radiotherapy in more advanced T3 tumours.
What can I expect from the procedure?
The procedure can be carried out either as a day case or overnight procedure, with patients able to rapidly return to their normal activities. The Iodine 125 radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate gland via needles inserted through the perineum, guided by ultrasound. The procedure is performed under an anaesthetic. Patients experience very little or no discomfort. There is no need for a catheter and a ten day course of antibiotics is given. A CT scan is performed four weeks after the procedure to check that the correct dose has been given. Following the year long period of radiation, the seeds remain in the prostate gland without causing any problems.
Is this the right treatment for me?
The treatment is beneficial for patients who are concerned about the side-effects of surgery. In comparison to open prostate surgery, the risk of incontinence and impotency is very low. Patients may temporarily experience a slow urinary flow and the need to urinate frequently, however recovery from Brachytherapy is rapid. The effectiveness of the procedure is monitored by a PSA test, undertaken a year after the procedure when the course of radiation has been completed.
Experience of brachytherapy
Although brachytherapy is relatively new in the UK, it is an established procedure throughout Europe and America. Data gathered during the past 15 years shows that Brachytherapy is equally as effective as surgery. Brachytherapy is now the treatment of choice for patients with early stage prostate cancer in the USA. Brachytherapy treatment for prostate cancer is now being applied more widely, for patients with locally advanced prostate cancer, in combination with external beam radiotherapy.
BPC oncologist Dr Ahmed El-Modir appears in this Prostate UK film explaining what brachytherapy is and featuring a patient having this treatment.
“Brachytherapy is very beneficial for patients who want to recover very quickly and get back to their normal activities.”