Low Dose Rate (LDR) Brachytherapy

Seed implantation, also called brachytherapy, is a common treatment option for early stage prostate cancer. A benefit for men who choose the implants is a shorter treatment time than for treatment done with an external source. The Nassif St. Luke's Radiation Center is the only provider of this service in Cedar Rapids.


The procedure

In selected men with prostate cancer, this option offers quick, minimally invasive treatment with good cancer control. Small radioactive rice-sized pellets or "seeds" (Iodine 125) are placed directly into the prostate gland and give off a known amount of radioactivity into the surrounding prostate tissue. In this way, radiation is placed as close as possible to the cancerous cells so that the pelvic organs are exposed to less radiation than with external beam radiation.

Seed implantation

Seeds are implanted without a surgical incision. They are inserted through the skin of the perineum (just behind the scrotum and in front of the anus) using small pre-loaded needles. General or spinal anesthesia is used. Each seed is carefully placed in a predetermined location and depth. Placement is guided by a template attached to an ultrasound probe and a computer plan is designed specifically for the size of the patient's prostate.

Radiation oncologists and urologists implant the seeds throughout the prostate gland. Depending on the gland's size, approximately 50 to 125 seeds containing radioactive Iodine – 125 are implanted. The seeds can give off radiation into the cancer of the prostate for up to one year.

Precision

LDR Brachytherapy delivers a prescribed dose of radiation directly to the cancer cells. There is only limited radiation to surrounding tissues such as the urethra and rectum. The seeds are usually permanently implanted and the radiation dissipates over time. Brachytherapy may be used alone or in combination with external beam radiation and/or hormonal therapy.

".the number of seeds and where they are placed is customized to match the exact radiation dose with the patient's needs."

Brachytherapy is typically done on an outpatient basis. The average length of the procedure is about one to one-and-a-half hours. Just before the seed implantation, another ultrasound image is taken of your prostate to ensure the seeds will be placed where needed. You may receive general or spinal anesthesia to ensure you have no discomfort during the procedure.

Relative size of the seed implants in comparison to the size of a dime.