Long-term urinary, sexual, and rectal morbidity in patients treated with iodine-125 prostate brachytherapy followed up for a minimum of 5 years

Urology. 2007 Feb;69(2):338-42. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2006.10.001.


Objectives: To define the long-term morbidity in patients with prostate cancer who underwent iodine-125 brachytherapy.

Methods: A total of 325 men with localized prostate cancer treated with iodine-125 brachytherapy had a median follow-up of 7 years (range 5 to 15). The American Urological Association symptom score, erectile function status, rectal bleeding incidence, and presence of urinary incontinence were collected prospectively before implantation and every 6 months thereafter. Comparisons were made between the pretreatment and treatment-related factors and their associations with quality-of-life changes. Associations were tested using the Student t, chi-square, and Wilcoxon signed rank tests.

Results: The median prostate volume and maximal dose to 90% of the prostate was 36.6 cm3 and 167 Gy, respectively. Of the 325 men, 15.7% experienced prostate-specific antigen failure and 4% started androgen deprivation therapy. The mean total symptom and bother scores increased from baseline (P <0.001) to 6 months after implantation, steadily decreased, and were unchanged at the last follow-up visit (P = 0.6). There were no significant associations among patient age, race, hormonal therapy use, prostate size, radiation dose, and urinary morbidity. Incontinence occurred in 4 (1.2%) of the 325 patients at the last follow-up visit and was associated with transurethral resection of the prostate (odds ratio 8.8, 95% confidence interval 1.3 to 62, P = 0.008). Before implantation, 77.2% were able to have an erection adequate for intercourse and 50.6% were able to at the last follow-up visit. A significant correlation was found between potency preservation and age (P <0.001). Rectal bleeding occurred in 78 men (24%) 1 to 3 years after implantation. Nine patients (2.8%) complained of minor bleeding beyond 5 years, which was associated with greater radiation doses (P = 0.023).

Conclusions: The preservation of urinary, sexual, and rectal quality of life is excellent at long follow-up for patients implanted with iodine-125.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brachytherapy / adverse effects*
  • Brachytherapy / methods
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Penile Erection / radiation effects*
  • Probability
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Radiation Injuries / diagnosis
  • Radiation Injuries / epidemiology
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Rectum / physiopathology
  • Rectum / radiation effects*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Urinary Tract / physiopathology
  • Urinary Tract / radiation effects*


  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen