BRACHYTHERAPY

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Brachytherapy is the delivery of internal radiation therapy used to treat cancer, which allows a prescribed dose of radiation within a small area while sparing surrounding normal tissue from radiation exposure. Internal radiation may be given as a primary treatment in low or high dose rate form (LDR/HDR) or in conjunction with external beam radiation. Brachytherapy is often used in the treatment of cancers of the breast, cervix, endometrium, prostate, and head and neck area.

The most common methods used to deliver the necessary dose of internal radiation include interstitial implants and intracavitary implants. In an interstitial implant, the radioactive source is contained within a needle, seed, wire or catheter that is placed directly into the tumor or tumor bed. The implant may be temporary or permanent. Our radiation oncologists are able to provide several forms of brachytherapy.

In temporary brachytherapy, a radioactive source is placed inside a catheter or slender tube for a specific amount of time then withdrawn. This gives us the ability to control the dose within a specific region allowing more radiation where needed. Temporary brachytherapy implants can be administered at a low or high dose rate.

Permanent brachytherapy, also called seed implantation, involves placing radioactive seeds (about the size of a grain of rice) in or near the tumor and leaving them there permanently. Over time, the radiation in the implants fades, leaving small titanium casings that remain in the body, with no lasting effect on the patient.

HDR tandem and ovoid (T&O) implant procedure is used to treat patients with uterine or cervical cancer. These patients are usually treated with a course of external beam radiation therapy and a series of three to five implants. These implants are usually done at the end of the external beam treatment.

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