Application for Treatment
  • Brachytherapy is a term that describes widely varying procedures with varying degrees of invasiveness. Patients should discuss the specifics of this procedure with their radiation oncologist.

    Brachytherapy is one type of radiation therapy used to treat cancer. Radiation therapy is the use of a type of energy, called ionizing radiation, to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

    External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) involves high-energy x-ray beams generated by a machine that are directed at the tumor from outside the body. Brachytherapy involves placing a radioactive material directly inside or next to the tumor.

    Brachytherapy, also called internal radiation therapy, allows a physician to use a higher total dose of radiation to treat a smaller area and in a shorter time than is possible with external beam radiation treatment.

    Brachytherapy is used to treat cancers throughout the body, including the:

    • prostate
    • cervix
    • head and neck
    • skin
    • breast
    • gallbladder
    • uterus
    • vagina
    • lung
    • rectum
    • eye

    Brachytherapy may be either temporary or permanent:

    In temporary brachytherapy, a highly radioactive material is placed inside a catheter or slender tube for a specific amount of time and then withdrawn. Temporary brachytherapy can be administered at a low-dose rate (LDR) or high-dose rate (HDR).

    Permanent brachytherapy, also called seed implantation, involves placing radioactive seeds or pellets (about the size of a grain of rice) in or near the tumor and leaving them there permanently. After several months, the radioactivity level of the implants eventually diminishes to nothing. The inactive seeds then remain in the body, with no lasting effect on the patient. Sometimes, these inactive metallic seeds can trigger metal detectors at airport security checkpoints.

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