Obese Prostate Cancer Patients Benefit From Brachytherapy

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Brachytherapy, also called seed implants, may be a more beneficial treatment than surgery or external beam radiation therapy for overweight or obese prostate cancer patients, according to a study published in the August issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

“Brachytherapy may be the preferable treatment for obese men with early-stage prostate cancer,” Anthony Zietman, M.D., one of the authors of the study and a radiation oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said. “Being overweight does not present any unique technical challenges for brachytherapy as it does for surgery and external beam.”


There has been some evidence published suggesting that men with a high body mass index have a greater likelihood of PSA failure after some prostate cancer treatments than normal-weight men. This has been specifically shown for overweight or obese men who undergo surgery (radical prostatectomy) or external beam radiation therapy. The exact cause for this is unknown but it is suspected that higher BMI can been associated with more aggressive cancers and also with more technical difficulties during treatments.

Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital departments of radiation oncology and urology and the Boston Medical Center Department of Radiation Oncology, both in Boston, sought to determine if the same problems were seen in overweight and obese men treated with brachytherapy.

The study analyzed 374 prostate cancer patients who were treated with brachytherapy from 1996 to 2001, and researchers found that the six-year PSA failure rate for men who were overweight or obese was no higher than for those of normal weight.