Brachytherapy, also called internal radiation, involves placing a radioactive material inside the body. It can be used to treat:
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Other cancers
Brachytherapy allows the physician to use a higher total dose of radiation to treat a smaller area in a shorter period of time than with external radiation treatment. It can be permanently or temporarily implanted.
In temporary brachytherapy, radioactive material is placed inside or near a tumor for a specific amount of time, then withdrawn. Temporary brachytherapy can be administered at a low-dose rate (LDR) or high-dose rate (HDR).
- High-dose rate brachytherapy - High doses of radiation are placed into the treatment site using various appliances. Radiation doses are left in the site for a brief period of time, then removed.
- SenoRX Contura™ Multi-Lumen Balloon - A type of HDR brachytherapy - used to treat some breast cancers. During treatment, a small balloon catheter is inserted into the lumpectomy cavity where a tumor was removed.
Over five days, twice a day, a small, computer-controlled source delivers radiation through the catheter to the tumor site, where it remains in place for about 10 minutes before being withdrawn. When the five-day regimen is complete, the balloon catheter is removed, and no traces of radiation remain. The Multi-Lumen Balloon allows for more precise treatment that can be conformed to the shape of the treatment site.
Permanent brachytherapy, also called seed implantation, involves placing radioactive seeds (about the size of rice grains) in or near the tumor and leaving them there permanently. After several weeks or months, the radioactivity level of the implants diminishes to nothing.
The Radiation Oncology Treatment Center has offered brachytherapy since 1998 for early-stage prostate cancer. The minimally invasive procedure usually has faster recovery times and fewer side effects.