Published on April 21, 2022

Forrest General Cancer Center Radiation Oncologist Completes 2,500th Procedure

Joseph Salloum, MD

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (April 21, 2022) Forrest General Cancer Center radiation oncologist, Joseph Salloum, MD, recently completed his 2,500th brachytherapy procedure for prostate cancer. These procedures have been performed during a 20-year period.

Brachytherapy or seed implantation is a type of radiation therapy in which radioactive metallic seeds — smaller than a grain of rice — are permanently placed exactly where the cancer is located, thus protecting other tissue and organs. For prostate cancer, the seeds are placed inside the prostate, where the therapy delivers a high dose of radiation directly to the prostate gland. This type of procedure is used for the treatment of early stage prostate cancer, but it can also be used as part of a treatment paired with external beam radiation for men with more advanced prostate cancer. Brachytherapy can also be used to treat some gynecological cancers.

The number of seeds implanted depends on the size of the gland and is not felt by the patient. The implants remain in place permanently. “The half life is 60 days,” said Salloum. “So every two months the radiation level drops 50 percent. By the end of six months, 90 percent of the radiation is already gone.”

Brachytherapy is a more preferred treatment for prostate cancer as the side effects are milder compared to an operation, as is the recovery time. Brachytherapy is done on an outpatient basis where the patient goes home the same day and is able to get out of the house the following day. A procedure requiring an operation means a hospital stay with multiple incisions and a recovery time that might take several weeks before the patient can get out and drive. Those undergoing surgery also go home with a catheter for at least a week and must deal with issues associated with incontinence.

“The seed implant doesn’t disrupt a patient’s life,” said Salloum. “And patients like that. The success rate is almost identical. I think most urologists found that out and jumped at the opportunity for seed implants.” The success rate is about 95 percent. Brachytherapy is also much less expensive as well as the most efficient way to treat early stage prostate cancer.

According to Salloum, Forrest General’s Cancer Center is the largest center in the state and one of the largest centers in the country to perform this procedure.

Salloum urges men to start getting prostate screenings usually after age 50 unless there is a family history. For African Americans, he recommends screening beginning at age 40.

For more information, visit forresthealth.org/cancer.

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