Used to treat cancer, Brachytherapy is a radiation therapy that involves the placement of radioactive material into your body. Also known as internal radiation, Brachytherapy is better than conventional radiation therapy at allowing doctors or other medical practitioners to deliver increased radiation doses to more-specific body areas. Also, compared to external beam radiation, Brachytherapy causes fewer side effects and takes less time to treat the disease. While external beam radiation involves directing machine generated high-energy x-ray beams at the tumour from outside the body, the latter works by placing a radioactive material next to or directly insider the tumour: this is what makes Brachytherapy more effective than EBR.
Today, getting Brachytherapy information is easy but it is important for you to ensure that your source of information is reliable. A term derived from the Greek work brachys, Brachytherapy is a cancer treatment in which radioactive material is inserted directly into the affected area. Usually, this form of cancer treatment is used for womb, cervical, and prostate cancer. Though, other cancers such as neck and head cancer are also treated using this method. The type of cancer being treated determines how Brachytherapy will be used. Following is how Brachytherapy is used to treat the different types of cancer.
Cervical and womb cancer
For this type of cancer, Brachytherapy involves the placement of applicators inside the vagina or womb. Once the applicators are placed inside the vagina or womb, radioactive material is inserted into them to treat the cancer.
The use of Brachytherapy for prostate cancer involves the insertion of small radioactive seeds either into the prostate’s catheter or directly into the tumour.
Secondary liver cancer
Brachytherapy for secondary liver cancer involves the use of a catheter to insert radioactive beads into the blood vessels.
Breast, cervical, mouth and other cancers
Brachytherapy for breast, cervical, mouth involves the insertion of very thin radioactive wires, needles, or tubes into the tumour. A general anaesthetic is used in this procedure.
Before undergoing Brachytherapy for any of the aforementioned cancers, you should talk to your doctor or radiation oncologist to find out the specifics of the procedure. Regardless of how he or she performs it, the oncologist will use Brachytherapy to kill cancer cells and deflate tumours. Generally, Brachytherapy involves a radiation therapist, a radiation oncologist, a radiation therapy nurse, a dosimetrist and a medical physicist. In some situations, a surgeon may also be required. Brachytherapy has two main types: LDR Brachytherapy and HDR Brachytherapy.
Short for low dose rate Brachytherapy, LDR Brachytherapy involves the permanent implantation of small radioactive seeds near or inside the tumour. Over several weeks or months, the radioactive seeds release small amounts of radiation to help treat the cancer. Though it uses the same principles as LDR Brachytherapy, HDR or High dose rate Brachytherapy has a different delivery process. Also, HDR is used for more localised and high-cancers.
Brachytherapy is wide topic and you need to do your own research to completely understand this cancer treatment.