Prostate brachytherapy is a form of prostate cancer therapy that uses radiation to treat the cancer. The procedure involves placing radioactive material directly into the prostate gland.
There are two types of prostate brachytherapy. Temporary prostate brachytherapy delivers a high dose of radiation for a short period of time. Permanent brachytherapy, the more common procedure, involves a low dose of radiation placed permanently in the prostate gland, where it releases radiation over time. Also known as low dose-rate (LDR) brachytherapy, this procedure uses tiny radioactive "seeds" about the size of a grain of rice that are injected directly into the prostate, where they remain and gradually become inactive over time.
Because LDR brachytherapy delivers a high dose of radiation directly to the tumor without compromising the healthy tissue around the prostate, the treatment is considered less stressful to the body than external radiation therapy where the radioactive beam passes through other tissue before it reaches the cancer. For this reason, and because it requires no incision and has a recovery time of only a few days, prostate brachytherapy offers an effective alternative to a prostatectomy or other prostate surgery.
For an expert treatment team that offers the very latest techniques in prostate brachytherapy, patients with prostate cancer can turn to Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Brigham and Women's Hospital delivers the most advanced prostate brachytherapy
Physicians and caregivers provide compassionate care and world-class treatment for a variety of cancers, including prostate, kidney and testicular cancer. With a treatment team made up of medical, urologic and radiation oncologists, the center provides each patient with a treatment plan tailored to meet their unique needs. Patients also have access to a wide range of support services to help them cope with the emotional and physical challenges of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Other treatment for prostate cancer
In addition to brachytherapy, physicians may recommend additional treatment options, including:
Prostatectomy to remove the prostate, or a resection to remove a portion of the prostate.
External radiation therapy using a machine outside the body to target the cancerous cells.
Hormone therapy to block the hormones that cancer cells need to continue growing.
Other innovative treatments including cryosurgery to freeze the cancer cells, biologic therapy that uses the patient's own immune system to fight cancer, high-intensity focused ultrasound to destroy cancer cells, and proton beam radiation therapy that targets tumors with streams of protons.
In this video, Anthony D’Amico, MD, PhD, Chief, Genitourinary Radiation Oncology at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, reviews prostate cancer risk categories and the appropriate prostate cancer therapy for each. Dr. D'Amico also discusses novel prostate cancer therapies that are being studied at Brigham and Women's Hospital, including diffusion weighted imaging and MRI guided biopsy.