Prostate Cancer

Receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis can be difficult, but we're here to provide you with all the information you need about the brachytherapy process and other treatment options.

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is a common form of cancer that affects the prostate gland, a walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder in men. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, after skin cancer. It is estimated that over 288,300¹ new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2023. It is estimated that one in eight men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer. During brachytherapy, tiny radioactive seeds are placed directly into the prostate gland, delivering a high dose of radiation to the cancer cells while minimizing exposure to healthy tissues. This treatment approach is highly effective in treating early-stage prostate cancer and has a high cure rate. It is also associated with fewer side effects than traditional radiation therapy or surgery.

It is important for patients to discuss their prostate cancer treatment options with their healthcare providers. Brachytherapy may not be the best option for every patient, and other treatment options such as surgery or external beam radiation therapy may be more appropriate depending on the stage and severity of the cancer. It is also important to consider factors such as the patient's age, overall health, and personal preferences when deciding on a treatment plan.

Treating Prostate Cancer

When it comes to treating prostate cancer, there are several options available, including surgery, radiation therapy, and brachytherapy.

Surgery, such as a prostatectomy, involves removing the prostate gland and is often recommended for younger patients with early-stage prostate cancer. Radiation therapy, on the other hand, involves using high-energy beams to kill cancer cells and can be delivered externally (external beam radiation therapy) or internally (brachytherapy).

Brachytherapy, also known as internal radiation therapy, is a minimally invasive procedure that involves placing tiny radioactive "seeds" directly into the prostate gland to kill cancer cells. Brachytherapy has a number of advantages over other treatment options, including a shorter recovery time and fewer side effects. However, it is not suitable for all patients and must be carefully considered by a healthcare provider.

Each treatment option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Surgery, for example, can be effective but also carries the risk of complications such as impotence and urinary incontinence. Radiation therapy can cause side effects such as fatigue and skin irritation, and brachytherapy can cause urinary problems. A healthcare provider can help patients weigh the pros and cons of each option and make an informed decision about which treatment is best for them.

Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer

Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer by placing small radioactive seeds directly into the prostate gland. These seeds emit radiation that targets the cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. This makes brachytherapy a highly effective and minimally invasive treatment option for prostate cancer.

There are two main types of brachytherapy for prostate cancer: high dose rate (HDR) and low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy.

High Dose Rate Brachytherapy

High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer. During this procedure, small tubes or catheters are placed into the prostate gland and a high dose of radiation is delivered directly to the tumour site. The radiation source is then removed after a few minutes, and the patient can return home the same day.

HDR brachytherapy is often used in combination with external beam radiation therapy, and studies have shown that it can be effective in treating prostate cancer, with a high cure rate and low rate of side effects. However, high dose rate brachytherapy requires specialized equipment and training, and not all medical centers may offer this treatment option. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of HDR brachytherapy with a healthcare provider to determine if it is the right treatment option for the patient.

Low Dose Rate Brachytherapy

Low Dose Rate (LDR) brachytherapy is another type of brachytherapy used to treat prostate cancer. LDR involves placing small radioactive seeds, typically made of iodine or palladium, directly into the prostate gland. The seeds are inserted through thin needles, which are guided into the prostate gland using ultrasound. Once in place, the seeds release low levels of radiation to the prostate over a period of several weeks, providing a steady dose of radiation to the cancerous cells. Over time, the radiation from the seeds decreases until they are no longer radioactive. Unlike HDR, which typically involves a single treatment session, LDR is usually performed on an outpatient basis and may require a hospital stay of one or two nights. One of the advantages of LDR is that it minimizes the radiation exposure to healthy tissue, reducing the risk of side effects. However, LDR may not be suitable for all patients, and a healthcare provider can help determine the best treatment option based on the patient's individual needs and medical history.

HDR vs LDR Brachytherapy

Both HDR and LDR brachytherapy have shown to be effective in treating prostate cancer, and the choice between the two types often depends on factors such as cancer stage, patient age, and overall health. HDR brachytherapy may be preferred for patients who are not good candidates for surgery or who have smaller tumors, while LDR brachytherapy may be better for patients with larger tumors or those who have a longer life expectancy. Your healthcare provider can help you determine which type of brachytherapy is best for your individual case.

One of the main benefits of brachytherapy for prostate cancer is its high success rate in treating the disease. Studies have shown that brachytherapy has a high cure rate for low-risk prostate cancer, with a low rate of complications compared to other treatment options². Additionally, brachytherapy has a shorter recovery time and fewer side effects compared to other forms of radiation therapy or surgery.

However, like any medical procedure, brachytherapy does carry some risks. Potential side effects of brachytherapy can include urinary problems, such as frequent urination or urinary incontinence, as well as bowel problems, erectile dysfunction, and other sexual side effects.

Patient Experiences

Our patient stories section features a diverse range of stories from men who have undergone different types of treatment for prostate cancer, including brachytherapy. These personal accounts provide a unique perspective on the challenges and triumphs of prostate cancer treatment, and offer valuable insights into the emotional and physical aspects of the journey.

Some stories focus on the decision-making process leading up to treatment, while others detail the treatment itself and the recovery process. By sharing their experiences, patients can help others better understand what to expect, and offer words of encouragement and hope.

In addition to providing valuable information and emotional support, patient stories can also serve as a source of inspiration for those who are struggling with prostate cancer. By seeing others who have overcome similar challenges, patients can feel empowered to take charge of their own health and make informed decisions about their treatment options.

View our patient stories

Other Resources

Get further understanding of your treatment options by visiting our partners at Infopool. Learn more about prostate cancer treatment options.

Download our prostate cancer brachytherapy patient guide (pdf) for details of how brachytherapy can be used to treat prostate cancer and assist patients and their families.

The Precise Answer for Tackling Prostate Cancer

Download the prostate cancer patient guide (pdf)


  1. American Cancer Society. (2021). Key statistics for prostate cancer. Retrieved from
  2. Morris, W. J., Tyldesley, S., Rodda, S., Halperin, R., Pai, H., McKenzie, M., … & Pai, D. (2007). Androgen suppression combined with elective nodal and dose escalated radiation therapy (the ASCENDE-RT trial): an analysis of survival endpoints for a randomized trial comparing a low-dose-rate brachytherapy boost to a dose-escalated external beam boost for high-and intermediate-risk prostate cancer. International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics, 69(4), S3-S4. -

DISCLAIMER: Elekta is an equipment manufacturer and cannot guarantee a prospective patient’s experience or outcomes. Patient statements presented on this site reflect individual experiences and do not necessarily represent the experiences of all patients who undergo brachytherapy treatment with Elekta equipment or necessarily reflect the view of Elekta.

This material may contain general information relating to various conditions and their treatments. Such information is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for advice by a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. Patients should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing a health condition or disease. Patients should always consult with a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional for medical advice or information about diagnosis and treatment options.

Nevertheless, there are a number of high-quality online resources that you may find useful. Among them, the American Cancer Society and the US National Cancer Institute have high-quality information resources that are multi-lingual and available worldwide.

Professional organizations dedicated to cancer treatment also have resources that may be useful. These include the American Society for Radiation Oncology the American Society of Clinical Oncology the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the European Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology.