Cancer Information

Prostate Cancer Treatment: Interstitial Brachytherapy

Radiation therapy is one way to destroy cancer cells. Cancer cells continue to die for months after the therapy ends. Radiation can be delivered from material placed inside the prostate gland. This is called interstitial brachytherapy. “Seeds” (tiny pieces of radioactive material) are implanted in the prostate. These seeds can be either permanent or temporary.

image of bladder
Radioactive 'seeds' are implanted throughout the prostate.
Permanent Seeds

Permanent seeds release decreasing amounts of radiation over a period of months. You can most likely go home soon after the seeds are implanted.

Temporary Seeds

Temporary seeds release a single high dose of radiation. They are implanted and removed. You may stay in the hospital for a day or more after the first dose. One or more doses may be given during the next day.

Before, During, and After Treatment

  • Before treatment. You may be given hormone therapy to shrink the prostate. Ultrasound or a CT scan is then used to map the size and shape of the prostate.
  • During treatment. You are given anesthesia to keep you free from pain during the procedure. Needles are then inserted behind the scrotum. These needles are used to implant the seeds. The procedure takes about 1-2 hours.
  • After treatment. Soon after treatment, you can resume normal activities. Your healthcare team will help you to manage any side effects. With permanent seeds, you may need to restrict contact with young children and pregnant women for a period of time. Discuss these precautions with your healthcare team. 

Risks and Complications of Interstitial Brachytherapy

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Incontinence
  • Frequent urination, possibly with a burning feeling
  • Pain in the perineal region
  • Bleeding or inflammation of the bladder or rectum
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Bowel problems
  • Movement of seeds out of prostate