Prostate Seed Implants
Prostate brachytherapy, the placement of radioactive seeds in the prostate
gland, is the fastest growing method of treating prostate cancer in the United
States. The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center Radiation Oncology
Department is the region's leader in prostate brachytherapy. With over 2,000 patients treated, the
program's success is attributed to its multidisciplinary treatment approach that combines the expertise of
urologists and radiation oncologists. This team coverage is in place through every stage of treatment allowing the highest level of care possible, maximizing the chance of a cure.
Prostate brachytherapy is a minimally-invasive procedure requiring no open surgery. This outpatient
procedure takes only a few hours, with most patients returning to normal activities within two to three days.
The goal of the treatment is to kill cancer cells with radiation while preserving
healthy tissue. Doctors use the tiny radioactive seeds to target the tumor and
to control the area exposed to radiation. During the brachytherapy procedure,
the patient is placed under anesthesia while doctors use thin needles to implant
the seeds in the prostate.
The advantages of seed implants are significant: the treatment requires only
minor surgery, causes fewer side effects than other treatments cause, and requires
only a short hospital stay. Patients often go home either the same day or the
morning after the procedure, and most are able to return to work within two
days. In addition, recent reports suggest that the procedure is at least as
effective as surgery or external radiation as a cure for prostate cancer.
All patients undergo thorough evaluation to determine stage and extent of disease which determines the appropriate use of seeds, external beam and hormones. Brachytherapy alone is used in early low risk patients. In other patients, brachytherapy is used as a boost after external beam radiotherapy to the pelvis. Additional hormone therapy is used in high risk patients.
Our experts use ultrasound and sophisticated computer programs to help guide placement of the
radioactive seeds. Using the most advanced technology available, we are able
to target the prostate with higher doses of radiation while minimizing the exposure
of healthy tissue. All patients undergo evaluation by CT scanning to ensure
that the pelvic bones do not interfere with proper placement of needles in the
When it comes to the treatment of prostate cancer, the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center is the region’s leader in non-surgical prostate brachytherapy.
Unlike external beam radiation therapy, which delivers a high dose of radiation from outside the body, brachytherapy is a low energy type of radiation therapy in which small radioactive sources, commonly called seeds, are permanently implanted inside the tumor.
Prostate brachytherapy does not involve major surgery, side effects related to sexual functioning and bowel function are minimized. In addition, because the radioactive seeds are placed only in the prostate gland and not in the surrounding tissues, patients report fewer side effects than are typically reported following external radiation.
Important information on Prostate Seed Implants.