A new one-off treatment for prostate cancer is to be made available to all public patients across the country.

Brachytherapy replaces the need for several weeks of traditional radiotherapy treatment.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Irish men, with around 3,000 men diagnosed each year.

Ireland has the highest incidence rate of prostate cancer in Europe.

Brachytherapy involves a short surgical procedure, lasting about 90 minutes, to implant radiotherapy seeds directly into the prostate gland.

There is little impact on the patient's life and limited risk of side effects.

The treatment has been available on a trial basis as a pilot project in Galway University Hospital and the National Cancer Control Programme has announced that it will now be extended to all public patients across the country.

New treatment units have been funded and patients will be referred through the Rapid Access Prostate Cancer Clinics at the eight cancer care centres of excellence.

Not all prostate cancer patients will be suitable for this type of treatment, but the National Cancer Control Programme is expecting that around 500 men a year will receive the treatment now that the national brachytherapy programme is up and running.

An expansion to the programme would mean up to 1,000 men a year could be treated with brachytherapy.