Because prostate brachytherapy does not involve major surgery, side effects related to sexual functioning and bowel function are minimized. In addition, because the radioactive seeds are placed only in the prostate gland and not in the surrounding tissues, patients report fewer side effects than are typically reported following external radiation.

The most common temporary side effects reported by patients after prostate brachytherapy are the following:

  • Urinary frequency (60-70%)
  • Urinary burning (50%)
  • Urinary urgency (50%)
  • Erectile dysfunction (30%)
  • Blood in the urine (20-30%)
  • Increased bowel movements and bowel urgency (5%)
  • Fatigue (5%)
  • Pelvic pain (5%)
  • Temporary catheter placement (5%)
  • Urinary incontinence (less than 1%)

Rarely, men have required trans-urethral resection to relieve urinary obstructions after the seed placement.


Patients who undergo prostate brachytherapy have follow-up visits four weeks after the procedure and every three months thereafter, alternating between the urologist and the radiation oncologist. A PSA test and a physical exam are performed at every follow-up visit in order to assess the status of the cancer.

If the doctor sees evidence that the cancer may have recurred in the prostate gland, the patient will be encouraged to have a biopsy but not earlier than 24 months after the implant. If the doctor sees evidence that the cancer may have recurred outside the prostate gland, then the patient will undergo either a CT scan, an MRI, or a bone scan. It is very common to have temporary inconsequential rises in PSA within the first one to two years.