Brachytherapy treatment for prostate cancer
Sometimes, the best way to treat prostate cancer is to go right to the source. We call this internal beam radiation therapy, or brachytherapy. This type of cancer treatment makes it possible to place the radiation as close as possible to the prostate cancer using special implants.
Brachytherapy is targeted radiation. That means a higher dose of radiation can be used to kill the cancer cells without as much damage to healthy cells nearby. In some cases, you may have brachytherapy in addition to regular external radiation therapy.
Seeds that save lives
The implants used for brachytherapy are very small—about the size of an apple seed. Although they are tiny, these seeds provide high dose, lifesaving cancer treatment.
There are two main types of brachytherapy treatment:
- Permanent brachytherapy – If you are having permanent brachytherapy, the implants will stay in your body after they are placed. However, they will only emit radiation for about a week or two. The amount of radiation they send out will decrease each day until it eventually stops. You will not even notice that the seeds are still there.
- Temporary brachytherapy – If you are having temporary brachytherapy, the implants will be placed and then removed after a particular period of time. That period of time depends on the level of the dose of radiation you are receiving. For example, if you are receiving a high dose of radiation, the implants may be removed after only a few minutes. If you are receiving a low dose, the implants might stay in place as long as two to three weeks.
Brachytherapy can be done as an outpatient procedure. Your doctor will give you local anesthetic so you will be comfortable during the procedure.
After you have brachytherapy treatment, you will need to avoid being around other people at first, when the radiation levels are highest. You should especially limit your time around children and pregnant women. Your doctor will let you know when it is safe to be around others—it could be a few hours or even a few days, depending on the level of radiation you received.