This type of radiotherapy is also called internal radiotherapy, implant therapy or seed implantation.
Men who have early prostate cancer may have brachytherapy on its own or with external beam radiotherapy and/or hormonal therapy. Brachytherapy is only carried out in specialist hospitals in the UK.
Brachytherapy may not be suitable for men with very large prostates. However, some men can be given hormonal therapy to reduce the size of their prostate before brachytherapy is given.
There are two ways of giving brachytherapy:
Permanent seed brachytherapy
This is sometimes known as low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy. This uses small, radioactive metal ‘seeds’ that are inserted into the tumour so that radiation is released slowly. The seeds are not removed but the radiation gradually fades away over about six months. There is no risk of it affecting other people.
High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy
This involves placing thin plastic or metal tubes into the prostate gland. A radioactive material is then inserted into the tubes by a machine. The radioactive material is left in the tubes for a set period of time and then withdrawn. After the treatment, the tubes are removed and no radioactive material is left in the prostate gland.