Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy is a special form of internal radiation therapy where a radioactive source is placed beside or inside the tumour, to deliver radiation to small areas over a period of time.

Overview

Brachytherapy is a special form of internal radiation therapy where a radioactive source is placed beside or inside a tumour to deliver radiation to small areas over a period of time.

Brachytherapy is commonly used, but not limited to, the treatment of gynaecological, prostate, breast and skin cancers.

Brachytherapy is administered through either a permanent radioactive seed implant (Low Dose Rate “LDR” treatment) or through moving a radioactive source in and/or around the cancer (High Dose Rate “HDR” treatment). With HDR treatment, the radioactive source is removed from the body after the dose has been delivered by the radiation oncologist. Our radiation oncologists will discuss which treatment is suitable for you.

Prostate brachytherapy

Brachytherapy for prostate cancer, also known as LDR brachytherapy, is a very targeted treatment which uses low energy radiation emmitted by Iodine-125. The seeds, which are no larger than an uncooked grain of rice, are strategically injected into the prostate to treat the cancer over a period of three to four months.

Focal brachytherapy uses the same technique, however offers even greater precision by placing the radioactive seeds into the tumour itself rather than the whole prostate, preserving the rest of the prostate gland and reducing side effects. Focal brachytherapy treatment is available at Icon Cancer Centre GeelongIcon Cancer Centre Richmond and Icon Cancer Centre Freemasons as part of the LIBERATE clinical registry.

Vaginal brachytherapy

Brachytherapy is an effective treatment used to treat the top of the vagina to reduce the risk of cancer returning. There are very little side effects associated with vaginal brachytherapy, which delivers a highly-targeted radiation dose with pinpoint precision to several millimetres of tissue.

Vaginal brachytherapy uses an applicator, either an ovoid (much like a marshmallow on a stick) or cylinder, which is inserted within the vagina and then connected to the treatment machine to deliver radiation to the target area. The radiation source passes into the applicator and retracts back into the machine once the treatment has been delivered. You will not feel, see or hear the radiation. The brachytherapy team will then scan the room to ensure the source has travelled back into the machine, before removing the applicator.

Treatment is typically delivered over four sessions, with each session lasting about twenty minutes. You will not require any special preparation for vaginal brachytherapy, and are free to go home after each treatment session.

Once your treatment is complete, the use of a vaginal cylinder will reduce the risk of vaginal stenosis (reduction in the length of the vagina).

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