Brachytherapy for prostate cancer

Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiotherapy. This means that a radioactive source is put inside the prostate. The radioactive source releases radiation to destroy the prostate cancer cells.

The source, also known as radioactive seeds, might stay inside your prostate permanently. This is permanent seed brachytherapy or low dose rate brachytherapy. The radiation is gradually released over a number of months.

Or you might have a higher dose of radiation, where the radioactive source stays inside the prostate for about 15 to 40 minutes. This is temporary brachytherapy or high dose rate brachytherapy. Your radiographer then removes the source, so you have no radiation left inside your body.

You may have both internal radiotherapy and external radiotherapy. External radiotherapy uses a machine outside the body to direct radiation beams at the cancer.

Permanent seed brachytherapy for prostate cancer

Permanent seed brachytherapy is when your doctor puts very small radioactive metal seeds into your prostate gland. The seeds slowly release a low level of radiation into the area of the prostate over a few months. 


Temporary brachytherapy for prostate cancer

Temporary brachytherapy is when radioactive pellets are put into your prostate gland. Your doctor takes them out at the end of the treatment. It is also called high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy. 

Long term side effects of brachytherapy for prostate cancer

Brachytherapy can cause some long term side effects such as passing urine more often and difficulty getting an erection.

Last reviewed: 
21 Jun 2022
Next review due: 
21 Jun 2025