Brachytherapy Prostate Cancer Treatment And Side Effects

September 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer Treatment

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Brachytherapy is by no means a new procedure for treating prostate cancer; as a matter of fact, it has been used a lot in the past, except that it is just now gaining prominence and acceptance as a viable and very effective treatment for the malignancy of the male prostate gland.

There are actually a lot of treatments and procedures for dealing with prostate cancer – most or all of the regular cancer treatments generally work on prostate cancer patients. Some of the most well known are surgery or prostatectomy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, cryosurgery, immunotherapy, and HIFU – high intensity focused ultrasound. However, long known to be one of the most effective and reliable treatments for prostate cancer is radiation therapy or radiotherapy, of which brachytherapy is a variation.

Radiation therapy is an alternative to prostate cancer treatment surgery in many cases, because too many patients do not appreciate the risks involved in a surgical operation, or the invasiveness of the procedure; however, with radiotherapy that uses X rays or other high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing, they are a lot more comfortable.

About the most common type of radiotherapy is external radiation therapy, in which radiation is beamed from a source machine onto your body at the point in which the malignancy is located, killing off the cells. In internal radiation therapy, certain small radioactive materials are sealed in “seeds” and then inserted into your prostate gland in a semi surgical procedure performed under local anesthesia. The advantage of this is that it spares your healthy tissues that are close to the infected area, and it appears to be no less effective than surgery for most men who have early-stage prostate cancer.

This latter procedure – internal radiation therapy – is what is known as brachytherapy. Your surgeon puts the radioactive, rice sized pellets directly into the prostate, where they emit the needed radiation from within the gland. Because implantation is relatively simple and requires minimal hospitalization that hardly ever lasts longer than a day or two, and because it leave no noticeable surgical wound of any kind, you can understand how it must be preferred by most folks who can’t stand hospitals, who need to get back to their lives, or who generally hate surgeries.

Also amongst the advantages of brachytherapy is that if the tumor extends past the prostate gland, the techniques is still largely applicable. In this instance, it will have to be combined with external-beam radiation to attack the outer reaches of the mass. It has been around for while, as mentioned earlier, but its long-term results were unsettling, and imaging technology was not there to help. These days the prostate cancer treatment approach now appears to be about as effective as any external-beam radiation or surgery for treating men with low-stage tumors, tumors that seem relatively unaggressive.

And side effects? What side effects? You could even leave the pellets in your body for as long as you please without repercussions. However, you will have to chat that out with your doctor.

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