Brachytherapy is a minimal invasion prostate cancer treatment option. This treatment option seeks to kill the cancer cells by exposing them to radiation. The procedure may use one of two prostate radiation options that include: a localized radiation therapy using high dose rate (HDR), also known as temporary brachytherapy or permanent seed implants.

Permanent Seed Implant Brachytherapy
Permanent seed implant brachytherapy works by radiating the cancer cells from inside the gland with a low dose rate over several weeks, after which the seeds remain in the gland permanently. The procedure uses either radioactive Iodine (I -125) or palladium (Pd-103) that's about the size of a grain of rice. Usually, the patient doesn't notice the presence of the seeds and in most cases he can go home the same day.

HDR Brachytherapy
On the other hand, HDR involves treating the cancer cells with a series of radiation treatment delivered by way of tiny plastic catheters that are inserted into the prostate. This treatment option is effective because it can precisely focus the radiation on the areas of the prostate that's cancerous and away from sensitive areas such as the nerve bundle that's responsible for regulating an erection. Once the treatment is complete, the catheters can be easily removed from the prostate. The major advantage of this method, over the permanent seed method, is that a higher dose of radiation can be delivered at once and so the cancer's response to the treatment can be more quickly assessed.

Side Effects Of Brachytherapy
Most side effects will be urinary related issues. After the procedure is performed patients may feel the need to urinate more frequently than is the norm and in some instance the man may not be able to urinate at all. This is because the needles, that were used to insert the seeds, may cause the prostate to swell or become enlarged after the implantation. Some patients may require a catheter for about seven days but usually the swelling goes away and the patient will start to experience normal bladder action after about 3 months. Other side effects may include blood in the urine and semen, while in a few cases patients may have erectile problems, however, the risk of this happening is very low.

Brachytherapy is usually recommended for men who have localized cancer that is confined to the prostate gland and those who desire to have a noninvasive treatment option with a reduced chance of incontinence and impotence. Even though the risk of impotence increases with age, most patients will experience the same level of potency before the procedure was done.

Other prostate cancer treatment options include:
· Cryotherapy (cryosurgery)
· Hormone Therapy or Androgen Deprivation therapy
· Radical Prostatectomy
· Watchful Waiting
· Herbal Alternatives

Source: Peter T. Scardino, and Judith Kelman. Dr. Peter Scardino's Prostate Book: The Complete Guide to Overcoming Prostate Cancer, Prostatitis, and BPH. New York, 2006.