What Is Brachytherapy In Cancer?
To understand what Brachytherapy is, you must first understand what radiation is. As a radiation oncologist myself, let me take you through the process of radiation therapy. It is a form of cancer treatment in which X-rays or intense beams of energy are used to kill cancer cells inside the body by damaging its DNA.
Radiation therapy is of two types:
- External Beam Radiation Therapy– in which the cancer-affected organ is exposed to radiation externally and is a common form of radiation therapy.
- Internal Beam Therapy– also known as Brachytherapy.
Brachytherapy- What Is It?
Brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy, where a sealed radiation source is placed into or near the tumour.
As the radiation sources can be precisely positioned at the tumour treatment site, brachytherapy enables a high dose of radiation to be applied to a small area and accurately targeted.
Radiation oncologists rely on imaging techniques such as CT scans and ultrasound during brachytherapy planning and delivery. This enables clinicians to achieve a high level of dose conformity that is ensuring the whole of the tumour receives an optimal level of radiation. It also reduces the risk of damage to healthy tissue, organs or structures around the tumour, thus improving the chance of cure and preservation of organ function.
AIM OF BRACHYTHERAPY
The use of brachytherapy enables overall treatment times to be reduced compared with External beam radiation.
Patients receiving brachytherapy generally have to make fewer visits for radiotherapy compared with EBRT, and overall radiotherapy treatment plans can be completed in less time. Many brachytherapy procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. This convenience may be particularly relevant for patients who have to work, older patients.
Brachytherapy can be used with the aim of curing cancer in cases of small or locally advanced tumours, provided cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. Inappropriately selected cases, brachytherapy for primary tumours often represents a comparable approach to surgery, achieving the same probability of cure and with similar side effects.
However, in locally advanced tumours, surgery may not routinely provide the best chance of cure and is often not technically feasible to perform. In these cases radiotherapy, including brachytherapy, offers the only chance of cure.
In more advanced disease stages, brachytherapy can be used as palliative treatment for symptom relief from pain and bleeding.
Here Are Some Precautions To Be Taken
Patients often ask if they need to have special safety precautions around family and friends after receiving brachytherapy. If temporary brachytherapy is used, no radioactive sources remain in the body after treatment. Therefore, there is no radiation risk to friends or family from being in close proximity to them.
If permanent brachytherapy is used, low-dose radioactive sources (seeds) are left in the body after treatment – the radiation levels are very low and decrease over time. In addition, the irradiation only affects tissues within a few millimeters of the radioactive sources.
permanent brachytherapy is no longer in practice, so you don’t have to worry about it.
With major advancements in the field of medical technology, a lot of new medical procedures are coming into the picture. When advised brachytherapy, I urge you to speak to your radiation oncologist and know about Brachytherapy as it is more effective in feasible scenarios.
At Mission Cancer Care, we strive to provide the best care and treatment possible for all our patients, as cancer is not just a disease, but a vigorous battle to be fought.
We have treated more than 350 patients through Brachytherapy as well.
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