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Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer

Men in the U.S. have a one in seven lifetime risk of prostate cancer, making it the most common male cancer (excluding skin cancer). Brachytherapy is one of several prostate cancer treatment options available to men in West Jordan through our physician partners, Gamma West Cancer Services. The radiation oncologists at Gamma West perform over 500 implants per year, making them one of the largest brachytherapy clinics in the United States. They are an invaluable addition to our comprehensive cancer care team at Jordan Valley Cancer Center.

 Who can undergo brachytherapy for prostate cancer?

Brachytherapy (with no other combined cancer treatments) may be used in men with early-stage, slow-growing prostate cancer. The therapy might be combined with external radiation for men whose prostate cancer is growing beyond the prostate. Your oncologist at Jordan Valley Cancer Center can tell you more.

Men who have urinary problems, have undergone a transurethral resection of the prostate, or have a large prostate may not be candidates for brachytherapy.

Permanent LDR v. Temporary HDR Brachytherapy

There are two types of brachytherapy for prostate cancer: permanent low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy and temporary high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy. Both procedures are done in an operating room under anesthesia and may require overnight hospitalization. During the procedures, an advanced imaging test, such as a CT scan or transrectal ultrasound, is used to help guide the seed implantation. Also, both procedures are sometimes combined with an external beam radiation therapy. Here’s how the two procedures can differ:

  • LDR Brachytherapy: In this procedure, approximately 100 tiny radioactive seeds are placed in the prostate. Because the amount of radiation the seeds give off is so low, they can simply be left in place until all the radioactive material is expired.
  • HDR Brachytherapy: In this procedure, hollow needles are inserted into the prostate. Flexible catheters are inserted into these needles and the radioactive pellets are then introduced for about five to 15 minutes per session. A standard HDR brachytherapy treatment might call for two sessions over the course of one day. (If this is the only therapy being used, additional sessions may be necessary.) The radioactive seeds contain a higher dose of radiation, but are not left in the prostate. HDR is not typically available in the average clinics. However, providers at Jordan Valley Cancer Center are unique in their specialization in HDR brachytherapy, which can be a highly effective treatment for prostate cancer, as it allows the physician to have more control over the delivery of the radioactive material, as well as its involvement with surrounding tissue.

Benefits of HDR Brachytherapy

  • More powerful radioactive source
  • Treats a wider area around the prostate than LDR brachytherapy, creating a greater “safety margin”
  • Better solution for faster-growing tumors
  • Relatively brief urinary side effects
  • No radiation precautions necessary since there is no permanent implantation

Are there any side effects?

Patients who undergo LDR brachytherapy will be made aware of the recommended precautions that accompany radioactive implants. There is also a risk of passing some seeds through urine. These side effects do not accompany HDR brachytherapy, as no seeds are left in the body.

Other potential side effects include:

  • Temporary bowel discomfort/irritation
  • Temporary urinary discomfort/irritation
  • Erectile issues

Planning for Radiation therapy

Brachytherapy (also known as “interstitial radiation therapy” and “seed implantation”) is a form of prostate cancer treatment that places small radioactive pellets directly in the prostate. The pellets are about the size of a seed – or a grain of rice – which is why this procedure is sometimes referred to as “seed implantation.” The pellets are radioactive, which results in the destruction of surrounding cells. Ideally, of course, the cancer cells are destroyed. However, there is always a risk that healthy tissues can be harmed in any medical, surgical or radiation cancer treatment.

Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer In West Jordan, UT

At Jordan Valley Cancer Center, we believe in an integrative approach to cancer care. By bringing together radiation, medical and surgical oncologists, our team is able to offer patients a full spectrum of treatment options. For more information about your brachytherapy options at Jordan Valley Cancer Center, please contact us by calling 801-601-2260.