New treatment for prostate cancer

Prostate brachytherapy – a new treatment for prostate cancer

“One stage” prostate brachytherapy, also known as Permanent Seed Implant Therapy is now being performed at the Bupa Cromwell Hospital in London.

Brachytherapy is widely established in the USA and Europe as the preferred option for early prostate cancer treatment. Outcomes compare favourably with surgery, but brachytherapy has the advantages of fewer side effects and quicker recovery.

Until now, Brachytherapy has been carried out as a two-stage process, whereby the volume study of the prostate is carried out a few weeks before the implant of the seeds. However, recent advances have enabled the Bupa Cromwell to introduce a one-stage procedure where everything is done together to minimise patient inconvenience.

Patients like the fact that treatment can be carried out in one day, unlike radiotherapy which is spread over seven weeks, or surgery, which has a considerable recovery time. The treatment is performed as a half day procedure and involves the use of state-of-the-art computer planning software to implant radioactive seeds into the prostate. Anywhere from 50 -110 seeds containing iodine or palladium isotopes are inserted through needles directly into the prostate through the perineum - the skin between the scrotum and rectum.

Once in position, the seeds produce a uniform radiation ‘cloud’ that treats the prostate cancer. After several months the seeds become inert and leave a titanium shell, which will not cause any problems or be felt by the patient.

Advantages of One Stage Brachytherapy:

  • Simple, short procedure
  • More convenient than the traditional two stage approach
  • Rapid return to normal life
  • Allows high doses of radioactivity to the prostate, whilst minimising the risk of damage to the bladder and bowel
  • To date, clinical evidence suggests it is as effective in the long term as other treatment options
  • Impotence is much less likely than with other treatment options


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