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Prostate Cancer: Brachytherapy Discharge Instructions

You had a procedure called prostate brachytherapy. Sometimes it's called internal radiation. Your healthcare provider put tiny radioactive seeds into your prostate. Each seed is smaller than a grain of rice. The radioactive material in them kills the cancer. The seeds will lose their radioactivity over the next weeks and months. The seeds will stay in your prostate the rest of your life, but will not harm you.  

Home care

Follow all your healthcare provider’s instructions. You may be told to:

  • Rest as needed. Recovery takes 1 to 2 days. It’s normal to feel tired.

  • Drink plenty of fluids for at least 2 days after your procedure.

  • Limit the amount of time you are very close (within about 3 feet) to people for the first 2 weeks after the seeds are put in. Don't hold children or pets on your lap the first 2 weeks, and then only briefly for the next 2 months.

  • Not lift anything heavy for a few days.

  • Go back to your normal activities a few days after the procedure. Ask if there's anything you can't do, like use a riding lawn mower or ride a bike.

  • Follow the instructions given to you about straining your urine. Occasionally the seeds placed into your prostate may move outside the gland. Seeds placed near the bladder or urethra may come out during urination. You can urinate into a strainer. If seed is found, don't touch it with your hands. Use the supplied tweezers and put it in the radiation protection envelope that was given to you. Save the packet to give to your healthcare provider at your next visit or as recommended by your provider. Don't touch the seed with your hands.

  • Expect some blood in your urine for 1 to 2 days.

  • Expect some burning during urination or ejaculation for a few days.

  • Use a condom during sex for the first 2 weeks.

  • Expect some pain and swelling of the scrotum or swelling in the perineum. This is the area between the anus and the scrotum. Ask your provider if you should use an ice pack for swelling. Ask how to correctly apply it.

  • Take your pain medicine or antibiotics as instructed.

Living with seeds in your body

The seeds are giving off some radiation for a certain period of time. Talk with your healthcare team about what you should and shouldn't do after the seeds are put in. Remember that over time the radiation decreases and goes away. (It takes up to 10 months until all the radiation is gone.) The first few weeks are when you may need to change your usual activities.

The seeds might set off airport security systems, even after the radiation is gone. Ask your healthcare provider for a card or letter that says you have the seeds in your body. You can show this to security staff.

Call 911

Call 911 right away if you have

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider if you have:

  • Blood in your urine

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • New lumps, bumps, or swelling

  • Pain that doesn’t go away

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Severe nausea or vomiting

  • Skin rashes, bruises, or bleeding

  • Trouble urinating

  • Redness, swelling, or pain in an arm or leg

Be sure you know how to get help after office hours and on weekends and holidays.

Online Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Richard LoCicero MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2019
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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