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Brachytherapy Side Effects

All of us at Chicago Prostate Cancer Center share a common goal of providing compassionate and transparent care to all of our patients. We specialize in providing Prostate Biopsy, Focal Therapy, Active Surveillance, and Low Dose Rate (LDR) Brachytherapy procedures in Chicago, IL. This guide is meant to address questions regarding the side effects of Brachytherapy.


What is Brachytherapy?

Brachytherapy is a procedure that uses radioactive seeds  to emit ionizing radiation directly into a malignant tumor. It is typically an outpatient procedure that lasts about an hour. During the procedure, the physician uses ultrasound guidance to image the prostate in order to strategically place the  radioactive seeds  within the prostate gland. It is minimally invasive and typically does not require pain medication as there is no incision.  However there can be soreness to the perineum. Talk to your doctor about prescription pain medication if needed.


What are the Immediate (Short-term) Side Effects of Brachytherapy?

Due to the needles placed in the prostate during the procedure, some side effects might be present in the first couple of days. Some of these side effects might include slight bleeding, bruising, or soreness around the perineum between the scrotum and the anus, or blood in your urine. These side effects are perfectly normal and shouldn’t be the cause of any worry. However, if your bleeding becomes abundant, or you notice large blood clots in your urine, contact your doctor immediately. If you have any questions about your procedure or about your prostate, please  consult the physician performing the brachytherapy procedure.


What Are the Long-term Side Effects of Brachytherapy?

It’s important to recognize that some side effects may not appear until 2-4 weeks after the procedure. These particular side effects come from the radiation that is being emitted into your prostate from the seed implants. You may experience frequent, urgent, or uncomfortable urination. However, these symptoms usually don’t last for long periods of time and will decrease as the seeds lose their radioactive strength. It’s recommended to drink plenty of water to help reduce these side effects.  Many physicians prescribe medications to alleviate these symptoms. Please talk to your doctor if you are particularly bothered by your urinary symptoms.


Does Brachytherapy Cause ED?

There is a chance that you may have erectile dysfunction after the LDR Brachytherapy procedure. Patients over the age of 70 are more likely to be impacted by this side effect. Patients can have improvement over time and with medication aids.  Speak to your physician regarding medication. However, compared to other forms of radiation treatment, brachytherapy shows a much lower rate of these side effects. 

As with any medical procedure, every case is different and you should follow up with your doctor to answer any specific questions. You can also consult our FAQ page for other answers to common questions.

Contact us with any other questions!


Sources:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360301604027117


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