PURPOSE: If a prostate cancer patient treated with (125)I brachytherapy dies within 12 months after the treatment, prostate removal before cremation is recommended to avoid problems related to radioactivity in the ashes, such as inhalation of airborne particulate matter by crematorium staff or nearby residents. To provide guidance for such cases, a manual prepared under the editorial supervision of several professional associations was issued in 2008 in Japan. Herein, we investigated the incidence and causes of death, and the actions taken subsequent to death, among prostate cancer patients who died within 12 months after (125)I brachytherapy over a 10-year period in Japan; and we compared the results before and after the manual was issued.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: Data extracted from the Japan Radioisotope Association database for the period from September 2003 to the end of December 2013 were used.
RESULTS: Of 27,976 patients who underwent (125)I brachytherapy during the specified period, 79 died within 12 months after implantation, including 3 who died in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The prostate and brachytherapy source were retrieved at autopsy from 69 of the 79 patients. Autopsy could not be performed on the other 10 patients, 2 of whom died in the earthquake. Autopsy and retrieval of the brachytherapy source were significantly more common after issuance of the manual than before (22/28 cases before; 47/49 cases after; p=0.021).
CONCLUSION: In most cases of early death after (125)I brachytherapy in Japan, the brachytherapy source was retrieved.
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