You had a procedure called brachytherapy to treat prostate cancer. Your treatment lasted 30 minutes or more, depending on the type of treatment you had.
Before your treatment started, you were given medicine to block pain.
Your doctor placed an ultrasound probe into your rectum. You probably may have also had a Foley catheter (tube) in your bladder to drain urine. Your doctor used CT scans or ultrasound to view the area to be treated.
Needles or special applicators were then used to place the metal pellets into your prostate. The pellets deliver radiation into your prostate. They were inserted through your perineum (the area between the scrotum and the anus).
What to Expect at Home
You may need to use a urinary catheter for 1 or 2 days if you have blood in your urine. Your doctor or nurse will show you how to use it. You may also feel the urge to urinate more often. Your perineum may be tender and bruised. You can use ice packs and take pain medicine to ease discomfort.
If you have a permanent implant, you may need to limit the amount of time you spend around children and pregnant women for a while.
Take it easy when you return home. Mix light activity with periods of rest to help speed your recovery.
Avoid heavy activity (such as housework, yard work, and lifting children) for at least 1 week. You should be able to return to your normal activities after that. You can resume sexual activity when you feel comfortable.
If you have a permanent implant, ask your doctor if you need to limit your activities. You will probably need to avoid sexual activity for about 2 weeks, and then use a condom for several weeks after that.
Try not to let children sit on your lap in the first few months after treatment because of possible radiation from the area.
Apply ice packs to the area for 20 minutes at a time to reduce pain and swelling. Wrap ice in a cloth or towel. Do not put the ice directly on your skin.
Take your pain medicine as your doctor told you to.
You may go back to your regular diet when you get home. Drink 8-10 glasses of water or unsweetened juice a day and choose healthy foods. Avoid alcohol for the first week.
You may shower and gently wash the perineum with a washcloth. Pat dry the tender areas. Do not soak in a bath tub, hot tub, or go swimming for 1 week.
You may need to follow up with your doctor for more treatment or imaging tests.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor or nurse if you have:
Fever greater than 101°F and chills
Severe pain in your rectum when you urinate or at other times
Blood or blood clots in your urine
Bleeding from your rectum
Problems having a bowel movement or passing urine
Shortness of breath
Severe discomfort in the treatment area that is does not go away with pain medicine
Nelson WG, Carter HB. DeWeese TL, Eisenberger MA. Prostate cancer. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKena WG, eds. Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 88.
Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.