An advanced form of
radiation therapy, brachytherapy delivers radiation from the inside out. Brachytherapy uses
radioactive seeds (or pellets) which are placed into a tumor, where they
deliver a continuous dose of radiation to destroy cancer cells.
With brachytherapy, thin catheters are insert into the tumor. The radioactive
seeds are delivered through the catheter under image guidance (CT or ultrasound)
and left in place.
Though it is not appropriate for all cancers or all patients, brachytherapy
has the advantage of being extremely precise. Since the radioactive source
is literally placed inside the tumor, the risk of damage to nearby healthy
tissue is minimized.
The radioactive seeds remain in place for a predetermined period of time
and then are removed. They are not left in the body indefinitely.
Brachytherapy is most often used to treat: