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J Clin Oncol. 2006 Nov 20;24(33):5298-304.

Patient and treatment factors associated with complications after prostate brachytherapy.

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  • 1Harvard Radiation Oncology Program, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



To assess the prevalence and predictors of complications after prostate brachytherapy in a population-based sample of older men.


We analyzed claims for Medicare-enrolled men older than age 65 years living in Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) surveillance areas diagnosed with prostate cancer from 1991 to 1999 who underwent brachytherapy as initial treatment.


There were 5,621 men who had brachytherapy with at least 2 years of follow-up. A complication diagnosis or invasive procedure occurred in 54.5% of men within 2 years, with 14.1% undergoing an invasive procedure. Urinary, bowel, and erectile morbidity rates were 33.8%, 21.0%, and 16.7%, respectively, and invasive procedure rates were 10.3%, 0.8%, and 4.0%, respectively. On multivariable analysis, combined urinary diagnoses and invasive procedures (obstruction, incontinence, bleeding, fistula) were associated with older age (P < .01), nonwhite race (odds ratio [OR], 1.30; P = .01), low income (OR, 1.74; P < .01), external-beam radiotherapy (EBRT; OR, 0.85; P = .01), androgen deprivation (OR, 1.31; P < .01), later year of brachytherapy (OR, 1.03/yr; P = .02), higher Charlson comorbidity score (P < .01), and prior transurethral resection of the prostate (OR, 1.65; P < .01). Bowel morbidity (bleeding/proctitis, injury) was associated with older age (P = .04), EBRT (OR, 1.46; P < .01), later year (OR, 1.04/yr; P < .01), higher Charlson score (P = .01), and inflammatory bowel disease (OR, 2.60; P < .01). Erectile morbidity was associated with younger age (P < .01), nonwhite race (OR, 1.37; P < .01), AD (OR, 1.18; P = .04), and later year (OR, 1.08/yr; P < .01). Invasive procedure rates declined with later year of brachytherapy (OR, 0.93/yr; P < .01).


Morbidity after prostate brachytherapy was common, though invasive procedures were required infrequently. Invasive procedures for complications declined during the 1990s, suggesting technical improvement with experience.

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