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About Brachytherapy


     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 have.

     ■ You can be around people after the implant is removed. You are not radioactive.


Permanent implants

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


Before treatment starts:

You will meet with your doctor to:

     ■ Talk about your health and medical history.

     ■ Get a checkup (physical exam). You will also have tests to take pictures of the cancer.

     ■ Learn how brachytherapy can help you.

     ■ Learn about any side effects you may have. These differ depending on where the radiation is placed. 

     ■ Ask and get answers to all your questions before starting treatment.


During treatment:

     ■ Your doctor will place a small holder, such as a thin tube called a catheter, into your body. It is placed in or near the cancer cells.      

        Sometimes an applicator or a balloon attached to a thin tube is used.

     ■ Then the seeds, ribbons, or wires are put inside the small holder so that the radiation can reach and destroy cancer cells.

     ■ Depending on the type of implant you receive, the radiation source may stay in place for minutes, hours, or days. Or if you receive a  

        permanent implant, it will not be taken out.

















Source:  National Cancer Institute |

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