Non-surgical treatment for early prostate cancer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prostate cancer incidence is rising due to the ageing population and increased public and doctor awareness. The role of screening is still not clear due to the large number of asymptomatic men who would need to be screened and treated to prevent one death. Discussion of all treatment options should be undertaken, with the patient having the opportunity to meet a clinical oncologist and urological surgeon. Treatment options include active surveillance, external beam radiotherapy, brachytherapy and surgery. Low-dose rate brachytherapy involves the permanent insertion of radioactive seeds (half-life 60 days) under ultrasound guidance. It is a good option for many men as impotence and incontinence rates are lower than for surgery and it has reduced hospital costs and time off work and high rates of relapse-free survival (90-95% in low-risk disease). External beam radiotherapy offers a good treatment for men with more locally advanced disease and men who do not want to undergo an anaesthetic. New developments allow higher doses of radiotherapy to be given with reduced relapse rates and reduced toxicity to neighbouring structures such as bowel and bladder. High-dose rate brachytherapy involves the temporary insertion of applicators into the prostate so that a high energy source can temporarily be fed into different positions in the prostate, ensuring a high dose to the prostate gland but minimising dose to the bladder and bowel. It can be used as monotherapy or in combination with external beam radiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-342
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • Brachytherapy
  • External beam radiotherapy
  • Prostate cancer

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