Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer

UPMC Pinnacle Hanover and Hanover Medical Group Urology are pleased to announce that brachytherapy, a treatment for prostate cancer therapy, is now available in Hanover. Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in men. Prostate brachytherapy has been a common treatment for prostate cancer for many years, but people had to go out of our community to receive this treatment. Now, with the efforts of HMG urologist Dr. Michael Kane, low dose prostate brachytherapy for the treatment of localized prostate cancer is coming to UPMC Pinnacle Hanover.

Dr. Kane has performed prostate brachytherapy for many years in Maryland and is well experienced in this treatment option. Permanent prostate brachytherapy (seed implants) is a prostate cancer treatment that uses ionizing radiation to destroy cancer cells. The radioactive material is placed either directly into a malignant tumor or very close to it, thus the term brachytherapy, which means 'short therapy' in Greek. Radiation kills the tumor by destroying the DNA within the cancer cell. When the cancer cell attempts to divide and reproduce itself, it is unable to do so because the DNA is no longer intact and as a result, the prostate cancer dies.

According to Dr. Michael Kane, Urologist, the best candidate for brachytherapy is someone with a prostate tumor confined to the prostate gland that has a low risk of spreading to other parts of the body. For patients with higher risk cancers, prostate brachytherapy can be combined with hormonal therapy and/or external beam radiation therapy to address the cancer.

Unlike traditional radiation treatments where high-energy x-rays are delivered to cancer cells from outside of the patient’s body, brachytherapy involves the use of tiny, rice-sized radiation-induced isotope “seeds,” which under ultrasound guidance, are placed directly into the prostate through the skin.  With the seed implant, there are no incisions or stitches required such as in the case of surgery. Furthermore, there is minimal, if any, post-procedure pain. Side effects include urgency or urination and blood in the urine, but these side effects usually resolve in a very short period of time. Sexual function is preserved in 75-94% of patients receiving brachytherapy compared with rates of 50% or more with either surgery or external beam radiation therapy. When compared to EBRT, patients undergoing prostate brachytherapy experience much lower rates of bowel irritation .
“Since brachytherapy is an outpatient procedure, no hospital stay is required. Furthermore, the seed implant is complete in one visit whereas a number of months are required to complete a course of external beam radiation. Patients are not required to take weeks off of work such as in surgery. Patients are often able to resume normal activity within a day.”

There are many options for treatment of prostate cancer and prostate brachytherapy is just one of them. Determining the best treatment is the work of the urologist and radiation oncologist with discussion with each individual. Some of the advantages of prostate brachytherapy are that it is minimally invasive, there is a quick recovery, there is minimal radiation exposure to surrounding tissue and there is little to no effect on patient’s lifestyle and level of activity.

UPMC Pinnacle Hanover is fortunate to soon be able to offer this additional treatment within our own community.