Brachytherapy

Internal radiation therapy, also known as brachytherapy, is radiation treatment that is given directly into the body. It is placed as close to the cancer as possible.

The radiation is given using tiny devices such as wires, seeds, or rods filled with radioactive materials. These devices are called implants.

Internal Radiation Photo
  • High-Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy – High-dose rate brachytherapy is an internal radiation therapy that delivers doses of radiation from implants placed inside or very close to the tumor. It allows for the delivery of the maximum dose of radiation to the cancerous tissues, with minimal exposure to the healthy surrounding tissues. Brachytherapy is a quick, effective therapy used for partial breast, GYN, lung and prostate malignancies.

    In HDR, the radioactive material is placed in the body for a short period. The radioactive material is inserted into the brachytherapy device with the help of a computerized machine. At the end of each treatment, the radioactive materials are withdrawn; therefore, you will not carry any radioactivity with you afterwards.

  • Prostate Seed Implantation - Prostate seed implantation is a low-dose form of brachytherapy and is a minor surgical procedure that takes about 40 minutes. There is no cutting involved with this procedure so no stitches are needed. The procedure is performed by a radiation oncologist and a urologist, both of whom are actively involved in all aspects of the implantation, from planning to post-operative care.

    During the seed implant, typically 50 to 100 small radioactive palladium or iodine seeds (typically each smaller than a grain of rice) are permanently implanted into the prostate gland using ultrasound-guidance. The number of seeds and where they are placed is determined by a computer-generated treatment plan tailored specific to the patient. These radioactive seeds emit an intense amount of radiation to the cancer in the prostate and only minimal radiation to tissues outside the prostate gland.

  • Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation - Accelerated partial breast irradiation is a form of brachytherapy used to treat breast cancer after a lumpectomy. Because the treatment works from inside the breast, a higher daily dose of radiation can be used for a shorter period of time (five days) and has fewer side effects than other radiation therapies that are done over the course of several weeks. The procedure involves inserting a small balloon inside the lumpectomy cavity; the balloon is attached to a catheter through which the high dose radiation treatment is delivered. Once treatment is completed, the catheter and balloon are removed and the patient can return to normal daily activities.

Learn more about radiation therapy and cancer treatments.

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