Brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy used to treat cancer. Unlike external beam radiation, which uses a machine to aim high energy rays at the cancer from outside the body, brachytherapy involves administering radiation from inside the body. This allows the radiation to be delivered right to the tumor, since the radioactive material is inside the body. Higher doses of radiation can thus be used, and there is less damage to surrounding organs and tissue since the therapy can be targeted more specifically at the cancer cells.
Brachytherapy is used to treat cancers throughout the body, including cancers in organs such as the Prostate, Cervix, Head and neck, Ovary, Breast, Gallbladder & bile duct, Uterus & uterine cervix, Vagina, Esophagus, Bronchus, Eye, Brain, etc.
Brachytherapy is probably one of the best forms of conformal radiation therapy. The main advantage is that as the radiation source is within the tumor, it is possible to deliver a high dose of radiation to the tumor with very minimal or insignificant doses to the surrounding normal structures in the body. This approach reduces the risk of damage to healthy tissue and increases the likelihood of destroying the tumor.
As the dose to the normal tissues is very minimal, large single doses of radiation can be delivered without any morbidity. Hence, the entire course of radiation can be delivered in a very short time. While conventional external radiotherapy takes 6-8 weeks for completion, brachytherapy delivers the entire course of radiation within just a few days. This causes immense benefit to the patients in terms of time and other resources.
Types of Brachytherapy
In permanent brachytherapy, also called seed implantation, needles that are pre-filled with the radioactive seeds are inserted into the tumor. The needle or device is then removed, leaving the radioactive seeds behind. X-rays, ultrasound or CT scans may be used to assist the physician in positioning the seeds. Additional imaging tests may be done after the implantation to verify seed placement.
In temporary brachytherapy, a delivery device, such as a catheter, needle, or applicator, is placed into the tumor using fluoroscopy, ultrasound or CT to help position the radiation sources. The delivery device may be inserted into a body cavity such as the vagina or uterus (intracavitary brachytherapy) or applicators (usually needles or catheters) may be inserted into body tissues (interstitial brachytherapy).
The procedure differs depending on the type of brachytherapy administered. Brachytherapy can be permanent or temporary. If it is temporary, radioactive material is inserted for a set period of time and then removed. If it is permanent, radioactive material is inserted permanently. This radioactive material usually comes in the form of seeds or pellets.
Even with permanent radiation, eventually the seeds or pellets become less radioactive, until there is no more radiation being administered. The seeds or pellets just stay in your body after they are no longer radioactive, instead of being removed. This means you only have to have one procedure (insertion of the seeds) instead of two (insertion and removal of the radioactive material).
The radioactive material, whether permanent or temporary, is inserted into the body using a specific insertion device. This may be a needle, a catheter or some other type of applicator.
Treatment Time High dosage brachytherapy is usually preformed as an outpatient analysis service. This agency that you will get to go home afterwards the action is done. During this blazon of treatment, the absolute time that it will booty ranges from aloof a few account to about 20 minutes. Low dosage brachytherapy releases radiation over a aeon of time. You may be accepted into the hospital for this analysis as sometimes it can booty several canicule to accomplishment the treatment; however, it may alone booty several hours, but you will still break in the hospital.
The radiation can either be amid into a atrium or into anatomy tissue. Intracavity analysis is delivered through a tube that is placed into the anatomy atrium through an aperture such as the windpipe or vagina. With tissue treatment, a tiny accessory is amid into the tissue. These accessories are agnate to a balloon, wires, and baby seeds that resemble grains of rice. At the End After you accept accustomed your brachytherapy treatment, your physician will accomplish a analysis to see how able-bodied the analysis has formed for you. This is usually done with some array of a scan. The blazon of browse a physician will adjustment depends on the treatment, the blazon of cancer, and the breadth actuality treated.