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Prostate Seed Implants

A Non-surgical Treatment for Prostate Cancer

Dr. Pradip A. Amin (right) and Dr. Young Kwok examine a post-implant dosimetric assessment that measures the effectiveness of the seeds.

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. This minimally invasive procedure eradicates cancer cells with radiation while preserving healthy tissue. 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 devices, called seeds, are permanently implanted inside the tumor.

“More than 2,000 patients have been treated with prostate brachytherapy at the University of Maryland. We have a history of success with this treatment,” explains William Regine, M.D., Isadore and Fannie Schneider Foxman Chair and Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

On average, 60 to 120 seeds are placed in a patient’s prostate gland and remain there as a permanent implant. The seeds are smaller than a grain of rice and are made from titanium, the same material used for orthopaedic joint replacements. The seeds are powerful and remain radioactive for close to a year. Because the seeds are so small, they cause little discomfort and there is no need to ever remove them.

Advantages of Prostate Brachytherapy:

  • Minimally invasive procedure
  • Organ preservation
  • More accurate and precise radiation dose delivery
  • Ability to target dose to fit the tumor and avoid healthy tissue
  • Side effects, such as impotence and incontinence, are greatly reduced
  • Rapid return to normal activities

“According to a number of research studies, including analysis of patient outcomes treated at the University of Maryland, 90 percent of men who were appropriate candidates for radiation seed therapy remained free from prostate cancer for at least five years,” says Pradip A. Amin, M.D., associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

As part of an academic medical center, the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center gives patients access to the most advanced therapies. Right now, there are two ongoing clinical trials, investigating additional approaches for aggressively treating prostate cancer. The first looks at combining taxotere chemotherapy with prostate brachytherapy in an effort to improve tumor control in men with aggressive cancers who are at high risk for recurrence. Taxotere is a new drug that is used in prostate cancer patients when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Studies suggest that it has very high response rates in prostate cancer and has the ability to enhance the effects of the radiation.

The second study involves patients with high-risk prostate cancer. Researchers are looking at the use of a new radio-isotope following image-guided pelvic Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy, adjuvant chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

For more information on cancer treatments offered at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, please call 1-800-888-8823.


This page was last updated on: July 11, 2012.