Brachytherapy: Radiation from the Inside-Out

This type of radiation therapy utilizes radioactive sources with specific energy outputs. Brachytherapy can be divided into two main branches: interstitial brachytherapy and intracavitary brachytherapy. With interstitial brachytherapy sources can be permanently or temporary placed directly into the tissue of concern. Intercavitary brachytherapy is when the source is temporarily placed into a body cavity.

Brachytherapy examples

  • Treating the liver using interstitial applicators
  • Prostate seed implant using Pd-103
  • I-131 for thyroid ablation
  • Quadremet Sm-153 for bone metastases
  • Y-90 Zevalin for radioimmunotherapy of non-hodgkins lymphoma
  • Therasphere Y-90 for liver cancer
  • Treating gynecologic cases with the Ring and Tandem, Tandem and Ovoids, Vaginal Cylinder and Mick Applicators

Our comprehensive brachytherapy technology includes:

  • 3-D image guided implants (interstitial and intra-cavitary)
  • Cs-131 and VariSeed prostate seed implant system including custom intra-operative planning
  • I-131 therapy for thyroid carcinoma
  • Ra-223 therapy for bone metastasis
  • Varian high dose rate remote afterloader
  • Y-90 monoclonal antibody therapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Y-90 TheraSphere for liver cancer

Seed implantation: things you should know

If you choose seed implantation, you should consider the following:

  • Some patients may experience burning or discomfort when urinating which may last for a few days to several weeks.
  • Some patients may experience some urinary frequency and urgency. There are medications to decrease these side effects. When the swelling subsides, so do the side effects, usually within 2 months.
  • The best results occur when an ultrasound machine is used to depict a three-dimensional image of the prostate. There is no long-term incontinence.
  • Brachytherapy is usually less costly than radical prostatectomy or external beam radiation.
  • A procedure that combines ultrasound and fluoroscopy is used to achieve a satisfactory distribution of seeds.
  • An interactive computer and a CT scan are used to assure accurate seed placement and distribution, which is critical to the success of the treatment.
  • This procedure can be repeated.
  • Brachytherapy is sometimes accompanied be external beam radiation, combination hormonal therapy, or both.
  • The procedure does not require a hospital stay. You are discharged the day of implantation.
  • It does not require general anesthesia.
  • Patients who have Stage A and B prostate cancer and who have small tumors are the best candidates. Because they are placed at the site of the cancer, the seeds can deliver two or three times more concentrated radiation to the prostate gland than can external beam radiation, which must use a lower dose because it also affects healthy tissue.