March 16, 2009 -- Question: What is brachytherapy or seed implant therapy, when is it used to treat prostate cancer, and what are the risks/side effects?
Answer: Brachytherapy or implants are a different way of delivering radiation. Instead of the radiation coming from the outside, the radiation comes from the inside. There's two main types of brachytherapy, including a permanent seed implant or a temporary high does rate or HDR implant.
Brachytherapy is used for different stages of prostate cancer. The seed implant alone is typically used for men who've got early stage, small prostate cancer and this includes men who have PSAs less than 10, a Gleason score six or less, or a cancer that we can not feel or there's just a small lump on the prostate.
The side effects of brachytherapy are very similar to those of external beam radiation and include irritation to the bladder, irritation of the rectum resulting in more frequent urination, more frequent bowel movements, tiredness and long-term side effects including difficultly with erections.