Certain radioactive materials are lethal to cancer cells. This is similar to the situation regarding high energy X-ray beams as described on the “Radiotherapy” page. Brachytherapy is a technique whereby a radioactive agent is placed inside the Prostate Gland and it kills the cancerous cells from within, sparing healthy tissue outside the Prostate Gland.
Brachytherapy comes in two forms.
In the first form, the radioactive agent is put into small “seeds” and these are placed, by a needle, in a pre-arranged pattern within the Prostate Gland using a suitable imaging technique to visualise the placement process. This procedure is performed under anaesthetic. The seeds are radioactive for about 9 – 10 months after which they remain, inactive, in the Prostate Gland.
In the second form, called High Dose Rate, or HDR Brachytherapy a larger source of radiation is placed in the Prostate Gland for up to three applications, and it is removed after each application. No remnant is left within the Prostate Gland.
Depending on the size of the Prostate Gland, hormone therapy may be used to shrink the Prostate Gland before Brachytherapy takes place.
Studies show that Brachytherapy is the best Primary Treatment mode to be used if the cancer is confined entirely within the Prostate Gland, and for other situations when it is used in conjunction with Radiotherapy (EBRT).
Finally, in recurrence situations it may be possible, using In bore mpMRI, to place a seed right up against a small lesion, thereby using Brachytherapy as a Focal Ablation technique.