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.
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Safety precautions during brachytherapy
With brachytherapy your body may give off some radiation for a short time. The levels gradually fall with time. The precautions you need to take will depend on what type of brachytherapy you have. Your doctor will talk to you about what precautions you need to follow.
Radiation from permanent brachytherapy 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. This is in case a seed comes out during sex but this rarely happens.
If you’re having temporary brachytherapy, you will not be radioactive once the wires are removed after each treatment, and there is no risk to other people and no special precautions are needed during sex.
Dr Amy Hayden, Radiation Oncologist, Westmead and Blacktown Hospitals, and Chair, Faculty of Radiation Genito-Urinary Group (FROGG), The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, NSW; Prof Shomik Sengupta, Professor of Surgery and Deputy Head, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, and Visiting Urologist and Uro-Oncology Lead, Urology Department, Eastern Health, VIC; A/Prof Arun Azad, Medical Oncologist, Urological and Prostate Cancers, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Ken Bezant, Consumer; Dr Marcus Dreosti, Radiation Oncologist, GenesisCare, and Clinical Strategy Lead, Oncology Australia, SA; A/Prof Nat Lenzo, Nuclear Physician, Specialist in Internal Medicine, Group Clinical Director, GenesisCare Theranostics and The University of Western Australia, WA; Jessica Medd, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Department of Urology, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, and HeadwayHealth Clinical and Consulting Psychology Services, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Western Australia; Graham Rees, Consumer; Kerry Santoro, Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse, Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, SA; A/Prof David Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Cancer Research Division, Cancer Council NSW; Matthew Starr, Consumer. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title. This booklet is funded through the generosity of the people of Australia.
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