What is brachytherapy

Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy. It involves placing a tiny amount of radioactive material into, or next to the tumour. Depending on the type of cancer being treated, material may be inserted using a very thin needle or wire, an applicator, or radioactive beads or ‘seeds’.

What does having brachytherapy involve?

How brachytherapy is given depends on the type of cancer being treated.

  1. You’ll normally have a general anaesthetic
  2. Radioactive material is inserted in, or around, the tumour
  3. The material gives off radiation that damages nearby cancer cells
  4. Over time, the material naturally decays without causing harm. When treating they’re removed by a doctor

What types of brachytherapy treatment can be used?

  • Interstitial brachytherapy
    Material is placed inside the tumour, for example when treating prostate cancer
  • Intracavitary brachytherapy
    Material is put into a cavity (space) near a tumour, for example inside the vagina to treat a gynaecological cancer
  • Episcleral branchytherapy
    A small seed (or 'plaque') is sewn onto the eye for around a week to treat an eye tumour

There are two main types of brachytherapy:

What’s involved in treatment?

  • While you’re under a general anaesthetic, tiny plastic rods are inserted into the prostate
  • The doctor uses a computerised system to guide the rods into place and ensure they deliver a targeted dose of radiation to the tumour
  • At the end of each treatment, the rods are removed

HDR can be given in one or more treatment sessions.A small seed (or ‘plaque’) is sewn onto the eye for around a week to treat an eye tumour

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