Brachytherapy is a minimally invasive prostate cancer treatment option that involves placing tiny radioactive seeds into the prostate to destroy the cancerous tumors. The seeds deliver radiation directly to the tumors, thus sparing much of the tissue and nerves surrounding the gland. This lowers the risk of side effects that are common with other prostate cancer treatment options. Brachytherapy is sometimes referred to as “seed therapy.” Alamance Urological is pleased to now offer this prostate cancer treatment as an in-office procedure.

The Procedure – What to Expect

If we decide that brachytherapy is a good option to treat your prostate cancer, we will begin the procedure by delivering local anesthetic to the treatment area. An ultrasound probe is inserted through the rectum to guide the procedure.

The seeds are placed into the tumors through small needles that are inserted through the perineum. The ultrasound images guide the placement of the needles, and once they are in place, the oncologist will release the seeds. There is no need for an incision, and the procedure is repeated until all of the seeds are in place. Typically, 40 to 100 seeds are used to treat prostate cancer. The seeds remain in the body permanently, but they eventually lose their radioactive properties.

After the Procedure – Recovery and Risks

Brachytherapy does not require any hospital stay, and patients can return to their normal activities within a few days of having the procedure done. Some patients will experience blood in the urine after the procedure. When this occurs, a catheter can help the patient empty his bladder until the area heals. Some patients will experience frequent urges to urinate and burning during urination after the procedure. These are typically temporary side effects and can be controlled with medication.

Because the procedure involves no incisions and the radiation does not pass through surrounding tissues, the risk of incontinence and impotence is low. The impotence rate five years after brachytherapy is around 25%, and incontinence is even more rare. Brachytherapy appears to be as effective as more invasive prostate cancer treatment options, so we feel confident offering it to our patients.