The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Prostate brachytherapy

There are two different types of prostate brachytherapy that are offered at Leeds Cancer Centre:

  • High Dose Rate (HDR) temporary brachytherapy implants
  • Low Dose Rate (LDR) permanent seed brachytherapy

The type of treatment you will receive depends on the size of your prostate, the stage of your cancer, your Gleason score and PSA level. Not everyone is suitable to have brachytherapy. Brachytherapy can be given in isolation or with external beam radiotherapy. Your doctor will let you know if you can have brachytherapy and if so which type would be more suitable for your type of cancer. 

Patients undergoing prostate brachytherapy may need to stay in the hospital for a night following the treatment. If this applies to, your doctor will let you know before the day of the treatment.

You will have either a general anaesthetic or spinal epidural for your brachytherapy treatment and will feel nothing during the procedure.

High Dose Rate (HDR) temporary brachytherapy implants

HDR prostate brachytherapy is a technique to treat prostate cancer using a radiation source that is temporarily inserted into your prostate. You will be admitted to the hospital for your treatment. You will stay in the hospital for the day of the treatment and  overnight until the next day.

The brachytherapy is delivered to you after you have had a general anaesthetic. When you are under the general anaesthetic, thin tubes are inserted into your prostate gland. An individualised treatment plan is made using ultrasound scans to determine the radiation dose required to treat your cancer. When the tubes are in the correct position, they are connected to a machine which will deliver the radiation to your cancer. The treatment normally takes about 20 minutes to deliver. When the treatment has been completed, the tubes are disconnected from the machine and then removed from your prostate. No radiation is left inside your body.

When you come around from the anaesthetic, you will be taken back to your ward.

Low Dose Rate (LDR) permanent seed brachytherapy

LDR brachytherapy is a technique to treat prostate cancer using a low dose rate source of radiation that is inserted into your prostate and left there. LDR treatments are normally performed in the morning as a day case. Your brachytherapy team will give you detailed information about your appointment time.

Each radiation source is very small, about the size of a grain of rice. The seeds stay in your prostate giving your cancer the required dose of radiation over a period of months. The radiation only treats your prostate cancer and does NOT have any effect on the rest of your body. The seeds release most of their radiation over the first few months after being inserted. 

If you have had a prostate LDR treatment, you cannot drive for 24 hours. You will also need an escort to take you home.
If you have had LDR brachytherapy, you will be slightly radioactive. You must follow instructions relating to holding children, being close to pregnant women and having unprotected sex following the insertion of the seeds. Your brachytherapy team will give you detailed information and advice.

 ldrhdr prostae