BrachytherapyAs part of the cancer care multidisciplinary team, our radiation oncologists coordinate every aspect of care with surgeons and pathologists to help decide the best course of treatment for each patient.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves to destroy or damage cancer cells. Internal radiation therapy involves putting the source of radiation inside the body. Brachytherapy is one type of internal radiation therapy. In brachtherapy, instead of using radiation beams delivered by special equipment, radioactive material is placed directly into, or as close as possible to the cancer. This type of radiation travels a very short distance in the body (“brachy” is a Greek prefix for “short”.) The radioactive material is placed in this way in order to spare as many healthy cells as possible. The material itself may be left in the body for a short time, or permanently.
There are Three Types of Brachytherapy:
How Brachytherapy WorksSealed radioactive substances are placed in body cavities or body tissue using a catheter – a small, stretchy tube. Sometimes, brachytherapy is put in place through a larger metal or plastic tube called an applicator.
During the treatment, the implants are placed in the body through the applicators. Some implants are permanent, while others are left in for a short period. The applicator may be removed at the same time as the implant, or it may be left in place until all the treatments are finished.
This procedure is carried out in a hospital operating room. Before the placement of the applicator(s), patients receive either general anesthesia (where you are asleep) or regional anestheisa (where part of your body is numbed). Applicators are placed either during surgery or by a doctor using an imaging test to view the intended location. If the applicators need to be held in place, stitches may be used.
What to ExpectThe anesthesia used during the placement of the applicator may make some patients feel drowsy, weak, or nauseated, but these side effects do not last long. If your implants are held in place by an applicator, you may experience some discomfort. Ask for medicine to help you relax or to relieve pain if needed.
Benefits of BrachytherapyBrachytherapy’s benefits include: