Tiny seeds which emit a fairly small amount of radiation are inserted into the prostrate, and they irradiate cancer cells in the prostrate. The seeds are covered by a titanium capsule and I-125 is sealed inside. The amount of radiation energy grows weaker and in about a year, it reaches zero. It has been proved that brachytherapy is not only a very safe and effective treatment, but it also gets less invasion when conducted properly with high level of skills and experience. As described below we can't deny that side effects may occur. However, the radiation risk from the seeds is very low and it has been proven that the effect on people around the patients is less than that which people normally receive in the daily life. Thus, patients can contact other people normally after the treatment.
Advantage of brachytherapy on quality of life issues
Better maintenance of erectile dysfunction and less urinary incontinence. To preserve patients' quality of life after cancer treatment is a primary concern. Brachytherapy can keep patients' normal life with fewer side effects of erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Continual hormone treatment lowers the male hormone and in most cases erectile dysfunction occurs. In the case of operation, only about 40 % of the patients retain normal function. On the other hand, brachytherapy is the best among all other treatments to keep the erectile function. After five years from the treatment, 70 to 80% maintain normal erectile function. Also, the problem of urinary incontinence rarely occurs in brachytherapy.
Less damage to the body and short hospital stay.
Brachytherapy treatments require anesthesia and minor operations. Therefore, we can't say that it has no damage at all. However, the effects to the body is quite small compared with operation. The days in the hospital is about 3 to 4 days, which is much shorter than for operations. External beam radiation treatment (EBRT) takes 7 to 8 consecutive weeks.
Side effects of brachytherapy
Patients who received brachytherapy may experience temporal side effects. The most common side effect is complaint on urination (difficulty in urination, increased urinary urgency or frequency). Medication is effective for those symptoms on urination. Urinary retention occurs very rarely in our experience of high quality seed implantation.The chance of radiation induced serious damage to the surrounding tissue is extremely minimal in our experience.