Early stage prostate cancer can be effectively treated with highly targeted, local radiation. The implantation of radioactive seeds is a newer technique that has been available at Maine Medical Center since April 1998. It has the advantage of producing less in the way of incontinence or impotence, while being as effective as external beam radiation.
The seed implant procedure involves appropriate patient selection and detailed planning. The tumor must be lower grade, Gleason score 7 or less and limited to the prostate. CT scans are used to define the extent and volume of tumor and to plan the optimal arrangement of the seeds. This is critical to the success of the treatment, since the gamma radiation released by the isotope is largely confined to immediately adjacent tissue. The actual implantation procedure is performed in the outpatient surgery unit at the Brighton Campus. Under general or spinal anesthesia, the radioactive seeds are implanted with the guidance of ultrasonography. The entire procedure lasts about two hours, and may or may not be followed by observation overnight (23-hour stay).
More than 60 patients with early-stage prostate cancer were treated with this technique this last year. The results have been gratifying with extremely low morbidity. Incontinence has been reported by less than 1 percent of patients, and potency has been maintained in 40 to 50 percent of patients. This is comparable to the results seen in other major cancer centers.
For more information on this new treatment technique, please call the Southern Maine Radiation Therapy Institute at (207) 662-2276.