Science & Tech

Fighting prostate cancer with radioactive seeds

1 min read

In November 1997, a team of surgeons headed by Anthoy D’Amico, an associate professor of radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School, first used a technique that treats early stages of prostate cancer in a way that, for some patients, may be superior to the usual methods of surgical removal of the gland or seven weeks of external radiation. The team used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to place 100 radioactive seeds, each smaller than a rice grain, into tumors inside a walnut-size prostate gland. Properly placed, the seeds destroy cancer cells. The team has since done more than 140 procedures without any failures or recurrence of cancer. “Patients experience fewer side effects than with ultrasound placement,” D’Amico says. “That’s because we can place seeds more precisely, allowing delivery of more radiation to tumors while sparing healthy tissues.”