Internal radiation therapy uses a radiation source that’s usually sealed in a small holder called an implant. The implant is placed very close to or inside the tumor, so that it harms as few normal cells as possible. Internal radiation therapy allows a higher dose of radiation in a smaller area than might be possible with external radiation treatment.
The main types of brachytherapy are intracavitary radiation and interstitial radiation. Both of these methods use radioactive implants such as pellets, seeds, ribbons, wires, needles, capsules, balloons, or tubes.
■ During intracavitary (IN-truh-KAV-uh-tair-ee) radiation, the radioactive source is placed in a cavity (space) in the body, such as the
rectum or uterus.
■ With interstitial (IN-ter-STIH-shul) radiation, the implants are placed in or near the tumor, but not in a body cavity.
Types of Brachytherapy:
Low-dose rate (LDR) implants
■ These implants stay in for hours or days. Often they stay in for 1 to 7 days and then are taken out.
■ You are likely to stay in a special room in the hospital.
■ You may need to limit time with visitors in the hospital, while the implant is in place.
■ Once the implant is removed, you are not radioactive and can be around people.
High-dose rate (HDR) implants
■ These implants stay in place for a few minutes at a time and are then taken out. Your entire visit will be longer, though, since it also takes time to prepare for the treatment.
■ The holder or catheter may stay in place or it may be put in place before each treatment.
■ You are likely to make daily trips to the hospital for your treatment. Or you may stay in the hospital. This depends on the type of cancer
■ You can be around people after the implant is removed. You are not radioactive.
These implants stay in your body and are not removed.
■ Over time the radiation gets weaker, but the implants stay in place.
■ Your doctor or nurse will talk with you about what safety measures to take
About the Treatment:
■ Brachytherapy uses radiation to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.
■ The radiation source, which looks like seeds, ribbons, or wires, is put into your body