Brachytherapy is a type of prostate cancer treatment that is used to deliver doses of radiation into the prostate over the period of a year. After brachytherapy, you will most likely be given a set of instructions by your doctor. You will probably be told to follow some safety precautions and to be on the lookout for any problems that may occur as a result of the treatment, which begins with a surgical procedure.
The treatment known as brachytherapy is a radiation treatment in which tiny metal seeds are implanted in your prostate. These seeds contain high levels of radiation, and have been developed to deliver small amounts of radiation to your prostate gland over a twelve month period. Depending on whether the cancer is considered low-risk or high-risk, the method of treatment can either be used by itself or in combination with other forms of radiation.
Immediately after brachytherapy surgery, you will be taken into a recovery room where you will sleep until the anesthesia wears off. There will most likely be a catheter in your penis to relieve your bladder, but after the anesthesia has worn off this is usually removed. The implantation procedure is considered to be an outpatient surgery, so if all goes well, you may go home the same day.
You may have to use antibiotic creams after brachytherapy, if your physician directs you to do so. This cream will be applied to the surgical area to prevent infections. Some spotting may also occur because of rectal bleeding for the first couple of days after the surgery. If it does not go away, you may need to speak with your doctor.
After treatment, you will be instructed to watch for any signs of infection or problems relating to the surgery. These problems may include trouble urinating, persistent pain, and constipation. If these issues become bothersome, you may need to speak with your doctor. A catheter may need to be used for a while or a change in medication may be needed.
While the metallic seeds are designed to stay inside of the prostate for the length of a man’s life, occasionally one may pass through your system, so you may find one in your urine or in your bed after surgery. You will most likely need to flush these seeds down the toilet and inform your doctor about them. When you are disposing of a metallic seed that you found on your bed, use another object to pick it up so that you do not expose your hands to the radiation.
Your doctor will explain some of your limitations to you before you leave the hospital. For a few days after your surgery, you will not be able to lift anything heavy or take part in any strenuous activity. After about a week, you will be able to resume most of your normal activity.
Some safety precautions will also be explained to you after brachytherapy treatment. Children will not be able to sit on your lap for more than five minutes per day for up to six months, depending on your treatment method. For the first two months you will always need to wear a condom while taking part in sexual relations. In addition, because of the low levels of radiation that may be present in areas other than your prostate, you should avoid coming into direct contact with pregnant women for a least three months.
Your follow-up treatment will generally include x-rays and scans to determine if the seeds are staying in place and working correctly. Blood tests may also be done to determine your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. These levels are generally checked on a regular basis after brachytherapy to monitor the progression of your prostate cancer.