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A modified form of prostate cancer treatment -- brachytherapy -- has been used for the first time in the southern hemisphere on two New Zealand patients.
Brachytherapy involves the permanent implantation of tiny radioactive "seeds"' directly into the prostate gland and has been practiced for 20-years.
The new "ThinStrand" technology uses smaller needles to implant smaller seeds, and initial studies in the United States have shown the procedure results in less bruising at the implantation site and less pain and tenderness in the initial period after the implant. The studies also found an improved, higher radiation dose in the prostate.
The new procedure was successfully carried out in Auckland last week on patients at Southern Cross Brightside Hospital by oncologist, Dr John Matthews, and urologist Derek Rothwell.
"The thinner needles make the procedure even less invasive and this is a significant advantage for patients," Dr Matthews said. "It is possible that the thinner needles will cause less swelling in the prostate and there is a study in Seattle looking at whether the thinner needles will reduce the chance of urinary symptoms and impotence."
The brachytherapy treatment method is an effective option for many men with early prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Foundation president Barry Young said it was just over 10 years ago that the first brachytherapy procedures were used here.
He said it was a less invasive option for treatment, but men should look at what was available and, in consultation with their doctors, select the treatment best suited to them.