Brachytherapy, often referred to as internal radiation, is a radiation therapy technique in which a radioactive source(s) is placed directly into or adjacent to a cancer. Brachytherapy often plays a role in the treatment of prostate cancer, gynecological cancers and breast cancer. For more information about brachytherapy in breast cancer, please see: Accelerated Partial Breast Radiation Therapy
Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer: A Brief Overview
Brachytherapy, commonly used in the treatment of prostate cancer, is most often given in the form of a permanent radioactive seed implant. In a short outpatient procedure, radioactive seeds are placed directly within the prostate via a transperineal technique. The seeds emit a dose of cancer-killing radiation over a period of months. This treatment modality often cures early stage prostate cancer with fewer side effects than surgery.
Brachytherapy for Gynecological Cancers: A Brief Overview
Gynecologic cancers involve the female reproductive organs. The two most common gynecologic cancers are endometrial cancer and cervical cancer. While surgery is most often the first-line therapy, radiation therapy in the form of external beam and brachytherapy also play a role in the treatment of these cancers in certain circumstances. External beam treatment is daily treatment delivered by a linear accelerator. In contrast, brachytherapy, or internal radiation, is a technique that places radiation directly into or around the cancer and is performed as a minor outpatient surgical procedure.