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What are the side effects on the rectum from prostate cancer brachytherapy?

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Quick Answer

Possible side effects of a prostrate brachytherapy procedure that affect the rectum include blood in the stool, bleeding from the rectum, and diarrhea, says Mayo Clinic. Medications may reduce side effects, and some side effects may diminish in time.

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In addition to side effects affecting the rectum, urinary complications are possible, such as difficulty starting urination, incomplete urination, a burning sensation when urinating, blood in the urine and the frequent feeling of urgently needing to urinate, says Mayo Clinic. Erectile dysfunction is another potential side effect of a brachytherapy procedure.

Prostrate brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy used to treat prostrate cancer, says Mayo Clinic. Tiny devices that contain radiation, called radioactive seeds, are implanted into the prostrate through a needle inserted into the patient's perineum. The goal of the procedure is to expose the cancer cells to targeted doses of radiation without damaging healthy tissue nearby. The seeds gradually release radiation over time and permanently remain in the body. A variation of the procedure, high-dose-rate brachytherapy, involves temporary placement of devices that have radioactive wires. The wires are kept in place for several minutes, releasing high doses of radiation to targeted areas of the prostrate, and then they are removed.

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