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Frequently asked questions


How effective is brachytherapy in treating prostate cancer?

Brachytherapy is a very effective treatment option for curing prostate cancer. Several studies have shown that patients who have low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy, also known as 'seed therapy', continue to remain free from prostate cancer many years after having the procedure.1,2

If I have low dose rate brachytherapy, will the seeds remain permanently in my prostate?

Seed implants remain in the prostate permanently. The radiation levels given out by the seeds are very low and gradually decrease over time. After about 9 months the radiation levels are extremely low and become inactive.3

Can I choose whether I have low dose rate or high dose rate brachytherapy to treat my prostate cancer?

This will depend on several factors including how advanced your tumor is and what treatments are available at your centre. Discuss with your doctor or other healthcare professional which options might be best for you.

Will the brachytherapy procedure hurt?

For both low dose rate and high dose rate brachytherapy procedures, your treatment will be done under anesthetic and so it shouldn't hurt. You may feel some discomfort afterwards, but this usually soon wears off.3

If I have brachytherapy, do I have to stay in hospital over-night?

Both low dose rate and high dose rate brachytherapy are usually provided as outpatient procedures, meaning you can go home the same day. However, you may need to make more than one visit to the hospital.

How will I know if brachytherapy has worked?

After your procedure, you will be scheduled regular appointments to check that the tumor is responding to the treatment.

What are the side effects of brachytherapy in the treatment of prostate cancer?

All treatments for prostate cancer carry a risk of side effects. Side effects of brachytherapy can include problems passing urine and bowel problems. Some men may find that their sexual function is affected.4-6
Read more on possible side effects of brachytherapy.

How soon can I get back to work after receiving brachytherapy?

After low dose rate brachytherapy, a couple of day's rest is usually recommended before going back to work. After high dose rate brachytherapy you may be able to return to work the following day.1

Will I still be able to have children after brachytherapy?

Brachytherapy does not usually affect a man's level of fertility and therefore does not necessarily prevent you from having children after the procedure.7 If you are planning to have children after your prostate cancer treatment, discuss this with your healthcare professional.

Other questions?

If you have a general question about brachytherapy that is not answered here, email us at and we will do our best to provide an answer on the website.

Please note that, while we will endeavor to answer as many questions as possible, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to post answers to all questions submitted. Please also note that we can only answer general questions – please contact your healthcare professional if you have any concerns or questions about your personal health.

1. Fatyga M, Williamson JF, Dogan N, et al. Med Phys 2009;36(9):3995-4006.
2. Kupelian PA, Potters L, Khuntia D, et al. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2004;58(1):25-33.
3. Holloway C, Hsu I-C, Albert M, et al. In: Brachytherapy: Application and techniques. Devlin PM (Ed). Philadelphia, PA, LWW. 2002.
4. Stone NN, Stock RG. Urology 2007;69(2):338-42.
5. Pickles T, Keyes M, Morris WJ. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2010;76(1):43-9.
6. Pinkawa M, Asadpour B, Piroth MD, et al. Radiother Oncol 2009;91(2):225-31.
7. International Commission on Radiological Protection. Ann ICRP 2005;35(3):iii-vi, 3-50.