More than three-thousand Iowa men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and more than 400 die from it, but a specialist says a successful type of outpatient prostate treatment is being “woefully underutilized.”
Doctor Joseph Rhoades says brachytherapy involves implanting a tiny radioactive pellet or “seed” directly into the prostate, as opposed to a radical surgery to remove the gland. Dr. Rhoades, who works out of four hospitals in central and southern Iowa, says “The reason we like the seed implant is we’ve got good 15 and 20-year data and as gentlemen get younger and younger that are being diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s a good option for them as well.”
He says the radioactive seeds directly target and kill the tumor using a non-invasive technique that requires several hours in the hospital, not days. Rhoades says the alternative surgeries tend to have more risks and side effects. Rhoades says “The prostate surgery or the radical prostatectomy has the risks of incontinence and impotence and is a long surgical procedure that is, in my mind, reserved only for favorable risk and certain patients with intermediate risk prostate cancer.” He says men over 70 usually are not good candidates for that surgery.
Rhoades says the seed implant surgery is a quick procedure, compared to the others. Rhoades says “The external beam therapy often requires eight weeks, Monday through Friday. The radical prostatectomy has about a six to seven-week recovery period for urinary continence issues, but the seed implant, folks usually within a couple days of their implant are out flying off on vacation, playing golf, swimming, whatever they do.”
Rhoades says he and his partner have performed about a-thousand of the seed implants in the past 14 years. He says it’s a type of treatment more men should consider. Rhoades is affiliated with Lutheran and Methodist Medical Centers in Des Moines, Ottumwa Regional Health Center and the Greater Regional Medical Center in Creston.