The most common cancer in men, prostate cancer, affects one in every six American men. Fortunately, this cancer is usually slow-growing, and most tumors are found in time for effective treatment. Physicians at El Camino Hospital routinely perform procedures for the treatment of prostate cancer.
Also known as "interstitial radiation", Brachytherapy is implantation of radioactive seed into the prostate gland. Brachytherapy delivers a prescribed dose of radiation directly to the cancer cells, while decreasing the risk of radiating surrounding tissues and organs. Brachytherapy may be done alone or in combination with external beam radiotherapy and or hormonal therapy. Generally, Brachytherapy is performed as an outpatient procedure. Most patients experience irritative voiding symptoms for several weeks or months after implantation. Complications include bleeding in the urine, urinary retention, and/or radiation induced injury to the bladder and bowel.
A Closer Look at Brachytherapy
Before you undergo the seed implant procedure, your urologist may schedule a series of preoperative tests, such as blood tests, chest x-rays, and electrocardiograms.
Your physician may also request that you undergo a bone scan and Computerized Tomography Scan (CT scan) in order to determine the stage the prostate cancer.
In addition, your urologist will perform a transrectal ultrasound test of the prostate to measure its size and determine the approximate number of seeds that will be needed during the implant.
Implant seeds are about the size of a grain of rice.
Brachytherapy is typically done on an outpatient basis. The length of the average procedure is about 60 - 90 minutes.
During the seed implantation, an ultrasound image is taken of your prostate to ensure that the seeds will be placed where they are needed.
You will probably receive general or spinal anesthesia to ensure that you will have no discomfort during the procedure.
During the procedure an ultrasound probe is positioned inside the rectum to make the prostate visible on the ultrasound monitor and on the computer screen.
In real-time your urologist and radiation oncologist can determine with the aid of a sophisticated computer program developed by Varian Corporation, the exact position of each seed for the optimal radiation delivery to the prostate cancer.
After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room until the effects of the anesthesia have worn off. Before you leave the hospital, you will receive specific instructions and precautions and, in some cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic or other medications.
Your physician may advise that you avoid strenuous types of activity for the first few days after the procedure, but you should be able to resume your normal routine within a matter of days.
Additional Prostate Cancer Treatments
Nerve-sparing Robotic Radical Prostatectomy
A less invasive approach to surgical removal of the prostate. Accessing the internal anatomy through five small incisions, the surgeon performs a very precise, nerve-sparing operation using the da Vinci® Surgical System. This approach may result in more complete eradication of cancer, and retention of bladder control and potency. While the procedure is considered safe and effective, it may not be appropriate for every individual. Ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as risks and benefits.
Active surveillance is a method of monitoring low- risk prostate cancer in patients who may not require surgery or radiation. The physician decides if a patient is a candidate by looking at the parameters of their prostate cancer, and through a discussion with the patient.