for patients

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about brachytherapy. Should you have additional questions or questions about your specific type of cancer, please reach out to your doctor to discuss.

Why didn't my doctor tell me about brachytherapy as a treatment option or know much about brachytherapy when I asked about it?

Many doctors aren't well versed in brachytherapy, as it is a relatively new treatment method. Therefore, some doctors only discuss surgery (such as radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer) or external beam radiation. Often, patients hear about brachytherapy through their families, friends, or social media.

How does brachytherapy stack up against other treatments such as surgery and external beam radiation?

Need new answer here. Must be general, as this does not discuss a specific type of cancer.

If I receive brachytherapy, am I radioactive after the implant?

A common misconception about brachytherapy is that the patient will give off radiation. If you are receiving temporary brachytherapy, no radioactive sources will remain in the body after treatment. Therefore, there will be no radiation risk to others.

If receiving permanent brachytherapy, low-activity radioactive seeds will be left in your body. The radiation levels are low, however, and will continue to decrease over time. As a precaution, your radiation oncologist may recommend that you avoid close contact with pregnant women and small children for a period of time after your procedure. But be assured, you are not radioactive!

When receiving permanent brachytherapy, why do the seeds stay in the body?

Because the seeds gradually lose their radioactive properties and there is no evidence that there is a benefit to removal, the seeds remain in place.

If receiving brachytherapy for prostate, can I pass the seeds through sexual activity or urination?

It is possible to pass a seed through urination. This typically happens if a seed has been dropped in the bladder. Many doctors will check the bladder after the implant during a procedure called "cystoscopy" to avoid leaving seeds in the bladder. Your doctor should provide you with instructions if you notice a seed in your urine. It is also possible, though highly unlikely, that you can pass a seed through ejaculation. It is recommended that you wear a condom for the first few climaxes, as this is when a seed would most likely be passed.

How long is the recovery time after the procedure?

Generally speaking, recovery time is very short. Most people are ready to resume normal activities within three or four days after the procedure.