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
Some blood in your urine or semen can be expected for a few days. You may need to use a urinary catheter for 1 or 2 days if you have a lot of blood in your urine. Your health care provider 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 provider 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 to 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 have follow up visits with your provider for more treatment or imaging tests.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if you have:
- Fever greater than 101°F (38.3°C) 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 does not go away with pain medicine
- Drainage from the place the catheter was inserted
- Chest pain
- Abdominal (belly) discomfort
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Any new or unusual symptoms
Implant therapy - prostate cancer - discharge; Radioactive seed placement - discharge
Nelson WG, Antonarakis ES, Carter HB, De Marzo AM, DeWeese TL. Prostate cancer. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 81.
Phillips R, Hazell S, Song DY. Radiation therapy for prostate cancer. In: Partin AW, Dmochowski RR, Kavoussi LR, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh-Wein Urology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 157.
Review Date 1/10/2021
Updated by: Kelly L. Stratton, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.