In brachytherapy, radioactive seeds are inserted through needles into the prostate gland under the guidance of transrectally taken ultrasound pictures.
As with external-beam radiation, the goal of brachytherapy is to damage the cancer cells and stop their growth or kill them. This works because the cancer cells are more vulnerable to destruction by the radiation than are the neighboring normal cells.
Brachytherapy is not for everyone. Generally, the best candidates are men who might otherwise expect to live at least 10 more years and whose cancer is confined to the prostate, or older men with localized cancer who are not eligible for surgery.
Advantages of Brachytherapy:
- It can potentially cure the cancer.
- Radiation is confined to prostate tissue minimizing damage to the surrounding tissues and organs.
- Because the procedure is noninvasive, recovery time is minimal.
Disadvantages of Brachytherapy:
- The procedure provides no way of knowing if the cancer is localized because the prostate cannot be pathologically staged.
- You may have trouble getting an erection.
- You may be temporarily or permanently incontinent.
- If Brachytherapy does not work, then surgery is no longer an option.