Treat cancer with brachytherapy


Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiotherapy in which seeds, bands, or capsules that contain a radiation source are placed in their body, in or near a tumor. Brachytherapy is a local treatment and only is a specific part of your body. It is often used to treat cancers of the head and neck, chest, uterine neck, prostate, and eye.

How brachytherapy applies

Most brachytherapy is installed through a catheter, which is a small and elastic tube. Sometimes, brachytherapy is performed through a larger device called an applicator. How brachytherapy is applied depends on the type of cancer. Your doctor will place a catheter or applicator in your body before starting treatment.

The techniques to place brachytherapy include:

  • Interstitial brachytherapy, in which a radiation source is placed inside the tumor. This technique is used for prostate cancer, for example.
  • Intraracavidity brachytherapy, in which a radiation source is placed within a bodily cavity or cavities created by surgery. For example, radiation can be placed in the vagina to treat cervical or endometrial cancer.

Episcopal brachytherapy, in which a source of radiation to the eye joins. This technique is used to treat melanoma of the eye.

After connecting the catheter or the applicator, a radiation source is placed. The radiation source can be kept in place for a few minutes, for a few days, or for the rest of your life. How long it remains in place depends on the type of radiation source, its type of cancer, where is cancer in your body, your health and any other cancer treatment you have.

Types of brachytherapy

There are three types of brachytherapy:

Low dose level implant (LDR): In this type of brachytherapy, the radiation source remains in place for 1 to 7 days. You can be in the hospital during this time. Once your treatment is completed, your doctor will eliminate the radiation source and the catheter or the applicator.

High dose rate implants (HDR): In this type of brachytherapy, the radiation source is left in place for only 10 to 20 minutes at the same time and then withdraws. You can undergo treatment twice a day for 2 to 5 days or once a week for 2 to 5 weeks. The schedule depends on the type of cancer. During treatment, your catheter or applicator can remain in place or can be installed before each treatment. You can be in the hospital during this time, or you can make daily trips to the hospital to install a radiation source. As with LDR implants, your doctor will eliminate the catheter or the applicator after the treatment ends.

Permanent implants: Once the radiation source is installed, the catheter is eliminated. The implant remains in your body for the rest of your life, but radiation is weakening every day. Over time, almost all radiation will disappear. When radiation is applied for the first time, you may have to limit your time with other people and take other security measures. Be careful not to spend time with pregnant children.


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