Radiation exposure after permanent prostate brachytherapy

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Background and purpose: Limited information is available on the true radiation exposure and associated risks for the relatives of the patients submitted to prostate brachytherapy with permanent implant of radioactive sources and for any other people coming into contact with them. In order to provide appropriate information, we analyzed the radiation exposure data from 216 prostate cancer patients who underwent 125I or 103Pd implants at the European Institute of Oncology of Milan, Italy. Patients and methods: Between October 1999 and October 2004, 216 patients with low risk prostate carcinoma were treated with 125I (200 patients) or 103Pd (16 patients) permanent seed implantation. One day after the procedure, radiation exposure measurements around the patients were performed using an ionization chamber survey meter (Victoreen RPO-50) calibrated in dose rate at an accredited calibration center (calibration Centre SIT 104). Results: The mean dose rate at the posterior skin surface (gluteal region) following 125I implants was 41.3 μSv/h (range: 6.2-99.4 μSv/h) and following 103Pd implants was 18.9 μSv/h (range 5.0-37.3 μSv/h). The dose rate at 50 cm from the skin decreased to the mean value of 6.4 μSv/h for the 125I implants and to the mean value of 1.7 μSv/h for the 103Pd implants. Total times required to reach the annual dose limit (1 mSv/year) recommended for the general population by the European Directive 96/29/Euratom and by the Italian law (Decreto Legislativo 241/2000) at a distance of 50 cm from the posterior skin surface of the implanted patient would be 7.7 and 21.6 days for 125I and for 103Pd. Good correlation between the measured dose rates and both the total implanted activity and the distance between the most posteriorly implanted seed and the skin surface of the patients was found. Conclusions: Our data show that the dose rates at 50 cm away from the prostate brachytherapy patients are very low and that the doses possibly absorbed by the relatives and other members of the general population coming into contact with the treated patients are well below the dose limit set by the European Directive and by the Italian regulation. However, in order to meet the recommendation of the ALARA principle (As Low As Reasonably/Readily Achievable), some advice to the patients should be given, such as to maintain a minimum distance from the patient of 1 m, at least for a period equal to one half life of used radionuclide (60 days for 125I and 15 days for 103Pd).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-69
Number of pages5
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • Pd
  • I
  • Permanent prostate brachytherapy
  • Prostate cancer
  • Radiation safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Urology


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