What is Brachytherapy?
- Brachytherapy is an advanced cancer treatment. Radioactive seeds or sources are placed in or near the tumor itself, giving a high radiation dose to the tumor while reducing the radiation exposure in the surrounding healthy tissues. The term "brachy" is Greek for short distance. Brachytherapy is radiation therapy given at a short distance: localized, precise, and high-tech.
How Does HDR Brachytherapy Work?
- With High-Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy, thin catheters are first placed in the tumor. The catheters are then connected to an HDR afterloader. This machine contains a single highly radioactive iridium pellet at the end of a wire. The pellet is pushed into each of the catheters one by one under computer control.
- The computer controls how long the pellet stays in each catheter (dwell time), and where along the catheter it should pause to release its radiation (dwell positions). With a few well-placed catheters in the tumor, HDR brachytherapy can provide a very precise treatment that takes only a few minutes. After a series of treatments, the catheters are removed, and there are no radioactive seeds left in the body.