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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 entire prostate.