Urology Of Greater Atlanta
What Is Brachytherapy?
Brachytherapy is a type of radiation treatment that works from inside your body to kill prostate cancer cells. Brachytherapy is also called internal radiation therapy or seed implantation. Is used to treat prostate cancer in its early stages when it has not moved out of your prostate gland, and it’s sometimes combined with Androgen Deprivation Therapy(ADT) to increase a positive outcome.
What is the procedure for brachytherapy?
About one month before treatment, your radiation oncologist will determine the best treatment plan for you. They will perform a procedure called a TransRectal Ultrasound (TRUS), which involves making detailed pictures of your prostate and cancer. The ultrasound pictures provide information about the size of your prostate, its shape, and the size of your prostate cancer.
From the ultrasound pictures, it will be decided on how many seeds you need and exactly where to put them. They will also help your doctor choose the best type of seed implant to treat your prostate cancer. The type of seed implant you have and how long it stays in your body will depend on the radiation dose you need to have the most effective treatment. About a month after the planning meeting, you will come back to have the seeds put in.
There are two types of brachytherapy treatment options.
High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy
HDR brachytherapy is a temporary type of prostate brachytherapy that involves placing radioactive sources in the prostate gland and delivering a high dose of radiation in a few minutes before the sources are removed. A typical treatment may involve several sessions.
Low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy
LDR brachytherapy is permanent prostate brachytherapy that involves placing seeds made of radioactive material in the prostate gland permanently, where they slowly release radiation over several months. This procedure does not require that you stay in the hospital.
If the ultrasound picture shows that your prostate is too large, you may be given hormone therapy for a couple of months before the seeds are implanted. The hormone therapy will shrink your prostate cancer. Hormone therapy is a prostate cancer treatment that lowers the amount of the male hormone, testosterone, in your body. Testosterone has been found to help your prostate cancer cells grow. Once your prostate has gotten smaller, treatment can begin.
The seeds are inserted into your prostate gland through your perineum (the skin between your anus and scrotum) using a long needle. An ultrasound probe called TRUS (TransRectal Ultrasound) is used to guide where the seeds are placed. This will be done during an operation in the hospital after you have been given anesthesia.
How effective is brachytherapy for prostate cancer?
The seed brachytherapy technique is now well established and large studies suggest the outcomes are at least as effective as external beam radiation therapy and surgery. One study showed that the overall survival rate is 90%.
What are the side effects of brachytherapy for prostate cancer?
Prostate brachytherapy may cause these possible side effects, including:
- Difficulty starting urination
- Persistent feeling of an urgent need to urinate
- Pain or discomfort when urinating
- Needing to urinate at night
- Blood in the urine
- Not being able to empty your bladder completely
- Erection problems
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Blood in stool
- Urgent bowel movements
- More-frequent bowel movements
Doctors often use medications to reduce the side effects of treatment. Many side effects of prostate brachytherapy become less noticeable over time.
If you’re due for a prostate cancer screening or have concerns about your prostate health, call Urology of Greater Atlanta or make an appointment online today.