Prostate Seed Implant Therapy
Dr. Gregory Echt, founder and lead surgeon at Choice Cancer Care and its affiliated Prostate Seed Institute, prefers prostate seed implantation for the treatment for prostate cancer. It is the fastest-growing method of treating prostate cancer in the United States and has been proven over the course of more than 15 years to be highly effective in treating the disease while lowering some side effect risks in the process.
Dr. Echt has personally treated more than 5,000 men with Prostate Seed Implants and more than 10,000 men with External Beam Radiation during his career. Through the Prostate Seed Institute, Dr. Echt and his colleagues make this less invasive alternative to radical prostatectomy available to men who meet the criterion for implant therapy.
The advantages of this alternative combined with its effectiveness make it Dr. Echt’s treatment choice for men whose cases qualify for the treatment.
The following criterion is necessary for a patient to be considered for seed implantation alone (monotherapy):
• The prostate gland cannot be too large.
• The PSA result must be less than 10, depending on the patient’s specific case.
• The patient needs to have a Gleason score of 6 or less, depending on their specific case.
• If it is likely that cancer has spread outside the prostate gland, external beam radiation may also be required.
Advantages of seed implants:
Prostate Seed Implants take about one hour, after the procedure, the patient leaves the clinic and can be taken home by a friend or family member. Most patients are able to go back to their normal routine within a day or two.
More than 15 years of data is available on this method of cancer treatment. It has been demonstrated to be an excellent option for treating prostate cancer. In several medical studies, seed implantation equals or exceeds the cure rate of surgery to remove the prostate.
Treatment is usually painless, as the patient is given a mild anesthetic. Recovery is much quicker and has fewer complications because the procedure does not require major surgery.
Rates of sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction (ED) and urinary problems, such as incontinence, are very low. According to the American Cancer Society, a major study (CaPSURE), rates brachytherapy as having the lowest rate of sexual dysfunction of any treatment, even after five years.
A number of men may, for a short term, experience occasional urinary urgency and frequency, and/or a weak urinary stream. Less than 5% of men may find they are temporarily unable to urinate, with the need for insertion of a catheter to relieve this problem. Medication can be prescribed for these issues.
PSA is a blood test that indicates the possibility of prostate cancer. After the seed implantation procedure, urologist and/or Dr. Echt will follow your PSA closely. The PSA may decline for as long as several years before reaching its lowest point.
Sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction (ED) occur in approximately 20% to 30% of patients. This probability is lower in younger patients. Medication such as Viagra can be used to successfully treat 70% to 75% of men with this problem.
How does Prostate Seed Implantation work?
Prostate seed implantation, or brachytherapy, is a procedure used to place radioactive rice-sized “seeds” into the cancerous prostate. The goal of the treatment is to kill cancer cells with radiation while preserving healthy tissue. Doctors use the tiny radioactive seeds to target the tumor and to control the area exposed to radiation.
Ultrasound and advanced computer programs help direct the placement of the radioactive seeds. Using highly developed technology, the doctor is able to target cancerous areas of the prostate with higher doses of radiation.
Usually the entire gland is treated because cancer could be found in more than one area of the prostate gland.
Images of the prostate are taken and transferred to the cancer treatment planning computer. This computer evaluates the exact position of the prostate and generates a three-dimensional plan that dictates the precise placement of the seeds to provide exactly the amount of radiation needed to cover 100% of the prostate gland while minimizing the exposure of healthy tissue.
Can Prostate Seed Implants work for higher-risk or more advanced cases?
Depending on the specifics of a case, a number of approaches may be taken to address more advanced prostate cancers. Aside from a radical prostatectomy (surgical removal of the gland), the options may include:
• High Dose Radiation Therapy (HDR or Temporary Brachytherapy) – Like standard implant therapy this treatment involves the insertion of radioactive materials directly into the prostate at the tumor site. In this case, however, a higher dose of radioactive materials are delivered temporarily and then removed. A hospital stay is involved, during which a template is fitted into the area to be treated. The initial treatment is generally two or three times following again about two weeks later.
• External Beam Radiation – This therapy involves the use of radiation treatments, five days a week, for generally seven to eight weeks. The sessions are painless and last only a few minutes each. The primary target is the prostate gland itself. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), and 3D conformal radiation therapy enable more precise targeting of the tumor to spare nearby tissue from damage.
• Combination Seed/EBR – As its name suggests, this therapy involves the use of both prostate seed implants and radiation. It is indicated when advanced stage cancer is present and the risk for spread is high.
The best treatment option will depend on the specifics in a man’s individual case. Dr. Echt recommends patients and their families carefully review their options with their doctors before making a final decision.
More info on Prostate Seeds can be found on our Prostate Seed Institute Website