Complications of LDR brachytherapy are less likely than with other treatments, although there may be some discomfort for a couple of days where the needles that deliver the seeds were inserted.
Occasionally, after LDR brachytherapy, there may be some initial difficulty passing urine, but this usually settles down within 6 months. Only 1 or 2 out of every 100 men (1-2% of patients) have persistent problems.
Fewer than 1 in 10 men (10%) may have difficulties with bowel movements, such as diarrhoea, but again these usually resolve on their own over time.
Investigators have shown that erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence problems which require treatment are much less common after LDR brachytherapy than with other prostate cancer treatments and occur in about 10-30 men out of every 100 (10-30% of patients) under the age of 60 years who were sexually active before treatment. Other treatments for prostate cancer cause problems with erectile dysfunction in 30-60 out of every 100 men (30-60% of patients). ED problems often respond to treatment with a class of drugs known as PDE5 inhibitors (the best-known is probably Viagra though there are others as well), which your General Practitioner can advise you about.
Compared with other forms of therapy for localised prostate cancer, such as external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) or surgery (radical prostatectomy), LDR brachytherapy is more likely to keep a man's quality of life and level of daily activity as it was before the procedure.
- Buron C, Le Vu B, Jean-Cosset J-M et al. Brachytherapy versus Prostatectomy In Localized Prostate Cancer: Results of a French Multicenter Prospective Medico-Economic Study. Int. J. Radiation Oncology Biol. Phys. 2007, Vol. 67, No. 3, Pp. 812-822
- Frank SJ, Pisters LL, Davis J et al. An Assessment of Quality of Life Following Radical Prostatectomy, High Dose External Beam Radiation Therapy and Brachytherapy Iodine Implantation as Monotherapies for Localized Prostate Cancer. J Urol 2007. Vol. 177, 2151-2156