medical slide of prostate cancer

Several long-term brachytherapy studies have found the recurrence-free survival rate somewhere between 77 and 93 percent. Here, a medical slide shows a cross section of prostate cancer.


The first concern of any male diagnosed with prostate cancer is personal survival; the second might very well be the survival of the species. For men who want to have children, prostate cancer is the proverbial double whammy. The disease itself, the most common form of cancer in men, can be devastating [source: RadiologyInfo]. But even if treatment for the cancer proves successful in eradicating the disease, there is the additional threat of how those treatments can affect a man's fertility.

One such form of treatment is brachytherapy. Derived from the Greek word brachy, meaning "close" or "short distance," this minimally invasive treatment -- sometimes known as interstitial radiation therapy or seed therapy -- employsdoses of radiation to destroy cancer cells. It is generally considered a good option for men with early-stage prostate cancer [source: National Cancer Institute].

There are two types of brachytherapy, low-dose (LDR) and high-dose (HDR). In low-dose brachytherapy, surgeons will place radioactively charged seed implants throughout the prostate. These seeds will remain in the prostate, even after the cancer-fighting radiation has worn off (anywhere from two to 10 months). This is typically done as an outpatient treatment.

High-dose brachytherapy is a bit more involved and will require a hospital visit. With HDR, surgeons insert high-dose radiation via a series of flexible catheters into the prostate. After a few minutes, the radiation source is then removed. The catheters are removed after the full course of treatment.

Both treatment methods can have several side effects that patients should be aware of, especially those regarding sexual activity and fertility.