Prostate seed implementation is a minimally invasive treatment option for men with prostate cancer. The procedure is a form of brachytherapy, in which the organ containing the tumor is implanted with radioactive material. Minuscule titanium metal capsules that produce high levels of radiation are permanently implanted. Prostate sees emit radiation to an area that is about the size of a marble.
Radiation oncologists perform the procedure using CT scans, software programs and transrectal ultrasounds. Specialists utilize these tools to decipher the number of seeds and seed distribution required.
Prostate Seed Treatment Options
Radical Prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate)
- Advantages — surgery is a one-time procedure that may cure early prostate cancer.
- Disadvantages — This treatment includes a hospital stay. Most often older men do not tolerate this type of procedure well.
- Side effects — include impotence and stress urinary incontinence in a considerable number of patients.
External Beam Radiation Therapy
- Advantages — external beam radiation therapy has a good cure rate for early prostate cancer and no hospitalization is needed.
- Disadvantages — include two months of daily visits to the radiation oncology center. There is still a risk of impotence but not as high as Radical Prostatectomy.
- Side effects — healthy surrounding tissue can suffer radiation damage. There are also number of complications including skin reactions, rectal irritation or bleeding, diarrhea, upset stomach, frequent and uncomfortable urination and fatigue.
Radioactive Seed Implants
- Advantages — less risk of impotence, and less risk of urinary complications. Recovery time is shorter because patient does not require a surgical incision. Since this is an outpatient procedure, patients can return to normal activities in just a few days.
- Disadvantages — there are few published results that demonstrate the effectiveness of the implant treatments after 10 years, although early results are promising.
- Side effects — Within four to six weeks, side effects usually fade. The most common problems include urinary frequency, burning with urination, blockage of urinary flow and soreness in the area of the implant.
Recovery and Follow-up Care
Most patients can go home the same day of the implant insertion. The urologist and radiation oncologist work together on follow-up care, which typically includes an evaluation after one month, and a visit every three to six months for the first five years to check the seed placement and progress of the treatment.