Background and purpose: To prospectively evaluate long-term urinary, bowel and sexual function after I-125 brachytherapy for localised prostate cancer using patient administered validated Quality of Life (QoL) instruments.
Materials and methods: Between March 1995 and March 2004, 673 men underwent brachytherapy and recorded urinary symptoms prospectively using the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS). In addition, in a subgroup of 116 patients, the Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite (EPIC) was used to record QoL information on urinary, bowel and sexual function before treatment and at regular time intervals for at least two years.
Results: Initially, there was a sharp rise in urinary symptoms which was most marked within the first three months. Scores then resolved slowly and returned to within one or two units of pre-treatment level at one year. Subsequently, there was no significant deterioration in urinary symptoms up to nine years following brachytherapy. Few had significant bowel symptoms. Sexual function deteriorated initially and then improved but failed to return to pre-treatment levels by two years. Patients requiring neo-adjuvant hormones experienced significantly more dysfunction.
Conclusions: After an initial period of mild to moderate urinary symptoms prostate brachytherapy is well tolerated with relatively little deterioration in long-term quality of life. Long-term reduction in sexual function may be seen particularly in those requiring hormones.