Implanted Prostate Seeds Effectively and Safely Deliver Radiation to Treat Cancer
Treating prostate cancer requires special care. You need a team that can relentlessly attack prostate cancer tumors while being careful to preserve the function of nearby structures. At Central Maryland Radiation Oncology (CMRO), we understand these concerns well. That’s why our radiation oncologists pursue treatment strategies that reduce risk for ED or incontinence problems.
At CMRO, we use a treatment called brachytherapy (bray-key-therapy) as one of the ways to
treat prostate cancer. Patients undergo a minimally invasive procedure that inserts tiny, radioactive “seeds” into the prostate. Each seed is about the size of a grain of rice.
Prostate seed therapy is known as low dose rate, or LDR, brachytherapy. The seeds stay in the prostate permanently. They give off low dose radiation over several months, targeting the cancer from within. This approach may decrease the side effects that people would have with other treatments.
Who Is Prostate Brachytherapy For?
In general, prostate seed implants are used for people with early-stage prostate cancer. Sometimes it’s the only treatment needed. Other people may need hormonal therapy to shrink the size of their tumor before they have prostate brachytherapy. For cancer that has the potential to spread beyond the prostate, LDR brachytherapy might be combined with external beam radiation therapy or another treatment.
You will consult with your radiation oncologist and care team to determine what treatment approach is best for your situation.
What Does LDR Brachytherapy Involve?
The seeds are implanted into the prostate during a minimally invasive procedure. Patients are under general anesthesia (asleep) as they would be for surgery. However, the procedure is not an operation. Instead, ultrasound images of the prostate show the radiation oncologist where to implant the seeds. These seeds are fed through a hollow needle inserted through the skin and into the prostate.
Prostate seed implantation is an outpatient procedure, done right at Central Maryland Radiation Oncology. You do not need to spend time overnight in the hospital. You will go home after a brief recovery. Although prostate seeds are considered safe for you and those around you, your doctor might give you a list of specific precautions to take where applicable.
What Are the Side Effects of Prostate Seeds?
Brachytherapy seeds are considered a less invasive way to treat prostate cancer that result in fewer side effects than other treatments. However, the most common side effects include from prostate seed implants include:
- Urinary problems, including pain, discomfort, feeling an urgent urge to urinate, trouble starting urination and/or not being able to completely empty your bladder
- Bowel problems, including more frequent and/or urgent bowel movements
- Rectal bleeding or irritation and/or blood in the stool
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Patients most often find that these side effects are temporary or decrease over time. However, your radiation oncologist will talk with you about the risks of this procedure beforehand. He or she will discuss your concerns and help guide you to the treatment that is right for you.
To learn about your radiation therapy options for prostate cancer, call us for a consultation at 443-546-1300.