Seed implants for treating prostate cancer are also known as brachytherapy, or internal radiation therapy. It is a type of radiation treatment that uses radioactive pellets or seeds that are inserted directly into the prostate gland to kill the cancer cells. Short-term hormonal therapy may also be used in combination with brachytherapy to help reduce the size of the tumor.
How is the procedure done? The seed implant procedure is done in an operating room and is performed under anesthesia. About three to four weeks before the seed implant procedure, the patient will have an ultrasound which is done in order to determine how many seeds the patient will need and how they need to be distributed. During the seed implant procedure, which is usually done by a Radiation Oncologist or a Urologist, there are about twenty to thirty hollow needles that are inserted into the prostate gland. Each of the needles has about two to six radioactive seeds which are implanted into the patient. Each patient is implanted with about 60-150 seeds. The Radiation Oncologist or Urologist will guide the needles through the skin and directly into the prostate gland. This is done with the help of ultrasound.
After the seed implant procedure, patients will stay in the hospital for about four to eight hours to be observed and recover from the surgery. Patients usually do not have to stay overnight and can usually go home the same day as the procedure. Some patients will require having a catheter in order to help them urinate until the prostate has healed a bit. However, most patients will not require a catheter and can usually go home without one.
Who is the seed implant procedure recommended for? The seed implant procedure for prostate cancer is recommended for men who still have their prostate (have not had it removed surgically for prostate cancer), men whose prostate cancer is contained within the prostate or near the prostate, and men who are healthy enough to have surgery. This procedure is not recommended for patients with prostate cancer that is invading nearby organs or has spread to distant areas of the body.
The most common side effects of this procedure include urinary symptoms. Urinary symptoms include frequent urination, needing to get to the bathroom quickly, burning with urination and, in some cases, an inability to empty the bladder completely. Other symptoms may include rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and possibly erectile dysfunction. However, these symptoms are much less common.