Internal-Beam Radiation Therapy (Brachytherapy)

The Most Targeted Radiation Treatment Option for Tumors of the Breast, Cervix, Colon, Prostate, Skin and More

Brachytherapy allows us to treat the tumor basically inside out, delivering extremely high doses of radiation to the tumor and essentially nothing else. This improves cancer control and decreases side effects.

Subhakar Mutyala, MD, Radiation Oncologist

Internal-beam radiation therapy is also called brachytherapy, which means short-distance therapy. This highly targeted treatment has proven to be very successful in treating cancers of the breast, cervix, prostate and skin, plus soft tissue sarcomas, and more.

Brachytherapy involves placing radioactive material directly inside your body close to or directly in the tumor. The material will remain there either temporarily or permanently, depending on your type of cancer.

Because brachytherapy allows us to deliver radiation directly to the tumor site rather than by way of a beam from outside your body, it reduces the amount of radiation to healthy tissue and organs to almost zero. Brachytherapy also allows us to deliver a higher dose to the tumor, which can potentially reduce your radiation treatment from weeks to just days. And for some cancers, such as prostate cancer, brachytherapy may allow you to avoid surgery to remove all or part of the diseased tissue or organ.

Types of Brachytherapy

Scott & White offers several forms of internal-beam radiation therapy for your cancer. Your physician team will discuss which option is best for you.

Low-Dose Radiation Therapy

  • Uses small radioactive pellets, called seeds, inserted into your tissue
  • Seeds emit radiation that attacks your tumor
  • These low-dose implants slowly lose their radioactivity over time

High-Dose Radiation Therapy

  • Uses very thin tubes (catheters) or implants and a radiation machine to deliver extremely high doses of radiation directly to the tumor site
  • Generally requires multiple 15- to 20-minute treatments over several sessions

Intracavitary Implants

  • Uses radioactive implants inserted into your tissue in the operating room
  • Implants are connected to radiation machine (afterloader)
  • Implants emit extremely high doses of radiation that attack your tumor
  • Generally requires treatments twice a day for about five days
  • Usually requires hospitalization; in some cases, may be performed on an outpatient basis

Interstitial Implants

  • Uses radioactive implants inserted into your body cavity in the operating room
  • Implants are connected to radiation machine (afterloader)
  • Implants emit extremely high doses of radiation that attack your tumor
  • Generally requires treatments twice a day for about five days
  • Usually requires hospitalization; may in some cases be performed on an outpatient basis

Endobiliary Brachytherapy

  • Requires a team approach with either surgery or interventional radiology
  • Offered in two forms; your physician team will determine which is best for you
    • Very thin tubes (catheters) placed in tumor bed during surgery
    • Transhepatic bililary drainage tubes under fluoroscopic guidance
  • Catheters or tubes are connected to radiation machine, delivering extremely high doses of radiation directly to tumor site
  • Generally requires multiple treatment sessions over several days
  • Usually requires hospitalization

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Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

Each radiation therapy approach is different and each person’s reaction to it can vary. At Scott & White, your radiation oncologist will see you through treatment and help you manage any side effects.

For more information about side effects, please talk to your radiation oncologist.

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