Low dose brachytherapy

Low-dose brachytherapy treats prostate cancer by means of tiny radioactive pellets inserted permanently into the prostate gland. It provides more localised radiation than external beam radiotherapy so the potential damage to the surrounding tissues is reduced.

Who is it suitable for?

Patients with cancer confined to the prostate (ie has not spread); with a PSA of less than 20ng/ml and a Gleason grade of less than 7. It is not suitable for patients with large prostates, those who have severe urinary symptoms (eg poor flow, frequency) or who have undergone previous prostate surgery (eg TURP).

How does it work?

A trans-rectal ultrasound is performed to provide an accurate picture of the prostate. This is used to help plan the positioning of the seeds. A week or so later, in the hospital operating theatre and under a light general anaesthetic, around 60-100 seeds are introduced into the prostate using needles inserted through the skin of the perineum (the area between the testicles and the anus). The patient can leave hospital after 24 hours but the seeds remain in place, gradually decaying over the next few months.

Because the prostate has not been removed, the procedure may result in fewer side effects than surgery. On the other hand, because the prostate cannot be studied under the microscope, there is no definite confirmation that the cancer has been cleared. Long-term studies indicate good results; close monitoring with regular PSA tests is important.

Where is it done?

Dr Katharine Pigott consults with the patient at The Prostate Centre and performs this technique at the Wellington Hospital.

How much does it cost?

Please refer to our Patient Liaison team for details of costs.

How can I make an appointment?

Dr Piggott is available on Thursdays. Please telephone our Patient Liaison team for an appointment on 020 7935 9720 or complete our online form.