Brachytherapy is also known as internal radiotherapy, it is a form of radiation therapy where a sealed radiation source is placed inside or next to the area requiring treatment. Brachytherapy can be used alone or in combination with other therapies such as surgery, External Bram Radiation Therapy (EBRT) and chemotherapy.
Brachytherapy differs from External Beam Radiation in how the radiation dose is delivered. In the case of EBRT, high-energy radiation is directed at the tumor from outside the body. In this process all of the tissue in the path of the radiation beam receives the prescription dose, this can include healthy tissue. On the other hand. Brachytherapy involves the precise placement of radiation sources directly at the site of the cancerous tumor.
These sources deliver radiation to a very limited area surrounding the source which gives clinicians precise control to limit the radiation to only affected tissue. Healthy tissues, farther away from the source, is spared unnecessary exposure to radiation. This means tumors can be treated with very high doses of radiation while reducing the risk of unnecessary damage to surrounding healthy tissues.
A course of brachytherapy can typically be completed in less time than other radiotherapy techniques. This can help reduce the chance for surviving cancer cells to divide and grow in the intervals between each radiotherapy dose. A full treatment course of Brachytherapy will typically be delivered on an outpatient basis and in fewer visits than EBRT treatments. This makes treatment accessible and convenient. This means that most patients are able to tolerate the brachytherapy procedure very well.
Brachytherapy represents an effective treatment option for many types of cancer. Treatment results have demonstrated that the cancer cure rates of brachytherapy are either comparable to surgery and EBRT or are improved when used in combination with these techniques. In addition, brachytherapy is associated with a low risk of serious adverse side effects.