Brachytherapy

What is Brachytherapy?

Brachytherapy is a cancer treatment where sealed radioactive material is implanted inside the body or inserted into the body cavity. The word ‘brachy’ is derived from Greek word “brachys” meaning short distance. The effect of brachytherapy is limited to the area around the sealed source.

Brachytherapy targets the cancerous tumour by placing the sealed source close to the tumour, delivering high radiation doses to the tumour. Since the treatment is short-range, it will only damage small area of healthy tissues, therefore reducing the potential side effects.

Brachytherapy can be prescribed primarily on its own; however it is more commonly used to complement External Beam Radiotherapy to deliver radiation dose boosts to the tumour.

Which type of cancers can be treated with Brachytherapy?

Brachytherapy is commonly used to treat prostate cancer and gynaecological cancers such as cervical cancer and endometrial cancer. It is also used to treat breast cancer, skin cancer, rectal cancer, lung cancer and other sites.

What can I expect from Brachytherapy?

At MMCH, High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy is used to treat gynaecological cancers only, allowing shorter treatment time. The procedure is of minimal pain as you will be given anaesthetic prior to applicator insertion by the Clinical Oncologist. The applicator is a pathway for the sealed radioactive source to reach the tumour area.

When the insertion is completed, Computed Tomography (CT) scan will be taken to plan your treatment. You will be transferred to the Brachytherapy treatment room once your treatment plan is ready. A flexible transfer tubes will be used to connect the applicator to the HDR Brachytherapy machine. The radioactive source will be delivered to certain locations in the applicator and irradiate the tumour as planned by the Medical Physicist and Clinical Oncologist. This irradiation process is painless and safe.

Once the treatment is completed, the transfer tube will be disconnected from the applicators. You will be transferred to the recovery room to have the applicators removed.

You may experience tenderness and swelling in the treatment area or other symptoms depending on your specific procedure. Most patients are able to resume normal activities within days after Brachytherapy.

What are the benefits of Brachytherapy?

Improved accuracy of radiation dose 

  • Permits treatments on an outpatient basis.
  • Used for delivering highly conformal dose to well-localized tumours.
  • Short treatment times.
  • Minimize risk of side effects.

We use 3D Brachytherapy treatment planning and delivery software to improve the accuracy of radiation dose delivered as compared to traditional 2D planning using orthogonal radiography.