Brachytherapy is a type of targeted internal radiation therapy where the radiation source is placed inside the body. Giving doses of radiation directly into the prostate may help to limit the radiation dose to nearby tissues such as the rectum and bladder.
There are two different types of brachytherapy: permanent or temporary. If you already have significant urinary symptoms or a large prostate, brachytherapy is not suitable.
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Safety precautions after brachytherapy
If you have permanent brachytherapy your body may give off some radiation for a short time. The levels will gradually fall over time. This radiation only travels a short distance, which means there is little radiation outside your body.
You will still need to take care with prolonged close contact around pregnant women and young children for a few weeks or months after the seeds are inserted – your treatment team will explain the precautions to you. You will be advised to use a condom during sexual activity for the first few weeks after treatment in case a seed comes out during sex (though this is rare).
If you have temporary brachytherapy, you will not be radioactive once the wires are removed after treatment, and there is no risk to other people and no special precautions are needed during sex.
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A/Prof Ian Vela, Urologic Oncologist, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland University of Technology, and Urocology, QLD; A/Prof Arun Azad, Medical Oncologist, Urological Cancers, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Nicholas Brook, Consultant Urological Surgeon, Royal Adelaide Hospital and A/Prof Surgery, The University of Adelaide, SA; Peter Greaves, Consumer; Graham Henry, Consumer; Clin Prof Nat Lenzo, Nuclear Physician and Specialist in Internal Medicine, Group Clinical Director, GenesisCare Theranostics, and Notre Dame University Australia, WA; Henry McGregor, Men’s Health Physiotherapist, Adelaide Men’s Health Physio, SA; Jessica Medd, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Department of Urology, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Dr Tom Shakespeare, Director, Radiation Oncology, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Lismore Public Hospitals, NSW; A/Prof David Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Daffodil Centre, Cancer Council NSW; Allison Turner, Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse (PCFA), Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Maria Veale, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council QLD; Michael Walkden, Consumer; Prof Scott Williams, Radiation Oncology Lead, Urology Tumour Stream, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Professor of Oncology, Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology, The University of Melbourne, VIC.
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