ADA — Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in the United States. One in six American men will develop prostate cancer in the course of his lifetime; it is also the second most common cause of cancer death in men.

There are many methods of treatment available for cancer of the prostate. But Valley View Regional Hospital is now offering an innovative option for prostate cancer treatment known as brachytherapy (Radioactive Seed Implant).

Aside from brachytherapy, treatment options for prostate cancer are limited. Depending on the severity of the cancer a man either goes through weeks of external beam radiation, undergoes a prostatectomy or radical prostatectomy, or a combination of both treatments. A prostatectomy is the removal of nodes and tissues surrounding the prostate that are cancerous, and a radical prostatectomy is the complete removal of the prostate gland. The surgery requires many weeks of recovery and often causes impotence or incontinence.

Brachytherapy is the implantation of radioactive seeds in the prostate that specifically target the cancerous area. The radioactive seeds give low energy X-rays, which are just right for destroying the cancer in the prostate, leaving the rest of the body unharmed. This procedure eliminates the need for a prostatectomy, and greatly reduces recovery time and the chances of severe side effects.

The radioactive seeds are about the size of a grain of rice. Typically, the physician will place 70 to 150 of the seeds in the cancerous prostate gland. The exact number depends on the actual size of the prostate gland. The implant seeds radioactivity diminishes greatly (90%) within a short time (2-6 months), and by one year the radioactivity is considered gone.

The procedure lasts about 45 minutes to one hour, and is done in One Day Surgery. Dr. Glen Diacon, Valley View Urologist, who has received many hours of special training for this procedure. He along with Valley View’s Radiation Oncologist team from St. Anthony’s, has performed two brachytherapy procedures since December here at Valley View with great success.

It is recommended that men over 40 should have an annual health checkup that includes a digital rectal exam. If a suspicious area is found, more extensive tests are required. For more information about prostate health contact your general or family practitioner.