My prostate cancer is being treated with radioactive seeds (brachytherapy). What precautions should I take during and after prostate cancer brachytherapy?
Answers from Erik P. Castle, M.D.
You might need to take some precautions, but it depends on the type of prostate cancer brachytherapy you receive.
Prostate cancer brachytherapy is designed to treat the cancer by delivering radiation directly to the prostate, minimizing radiation to the surrounding tissue. The radioactive "seeds" containing your treatment are implanted into your prostate gland.
Prostate cancer brachytherapy can be done with different types of radioactive seeds. The type of seed determines the amount of radiation released by the seeds and the duration of treatment.
Although the seeds remain in your prostate for the rest of your life, the amount of radiation released by them is low to begin with, decreases with time and eventually becomes negligible.
Your radiation oncologist can provide detailed information about the specific treatment used. Recommendations for the first two months after seed implantation might include:
- Avoiding sexual intercourse for the first two weeks
- After the first two weeks, using a condom during sexual intercourse in case a seed is passed during ejaculation
- Limiting close contact with children and pregnant women
- Not allowing children to sit on your lap for extended periods
If you travel to foreign countries, you might find that some border security checkpoints have radiation detectors. Consider carrying a card from your radiation oncologist indicating that you have had a prostate seed implant.
June 03, 2017
- Roach M, et al. Brachytherapy for localized prostate cancer. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 6, 2017.
- Radiation therapy for prostate cancer. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/treating/radiation-therapy.html. Accessed March 6, 2017.
- Radiation therapy and you: Support for people with cancer — Internal radiation therapy. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/radiation-therapy-and-you/page4. Accessed March 6, 2017.
- Dauer LT, et al. Less-restrictive, patient-specific radiation safety precautions can be safely prescribed after permanent seed implantation. Brachytherapy. 2010;9:101.