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What is brachytherapy?
Brachytherapy is one of the radiotherapy techniques used in the treatment of cancer, in which radioactive sources are placed into or near the tumor. Depending on the location and characteristics of the cancer, radioactive sources may be permanently or temporarily placed.
What are the applications of brachytherapy?
There are two main application forms of brachytherapy:
- Brachytherapy applied to voids (Intracavitary): The radioactive source used for cancer therapy is placed in the anatomical cavities adjacent to the tumor. It is most commonly used in female cancers (uterus, cervix, vagina) and lung cancer.
- Brachytherapy applied to tissues (Interstitial): The radioactive source is placed in the relevant tissue. It is most commonly used in prostate, soft tissue and breast cancers.
How does brachytherapy work?
The application of brachytherapy can be given in two different ways:
- Temporary brachytherapy: Brachytherapy is the form of radioactive source after application which is not left in the patient. The categorization is divided into two main categories in relation to the dose rate to be administered:
- High-dose rate (HDR): The dose to be administered is faster and can be given in a shorter time. It is a relatively common application. Therapeutic radiation is administered to the tumor beds via a catheter, if it is to be administered locally or post-operatively. It is usually administered once or twice a week. High-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy, the catheters are first placed in the tumor, then attached to the so-called afterloader system. This device, which contains a radioactive iridium source, is computer controlled and sequentially feeds each of the catheters. After treatment, the catheters are removed and there is no radioactive source in the body.
- Low dose rate (LDR): The dose to be administered can be given slower and longer. The patient remains in the hospital during this time. Since the application is long-term, it may be necessary to give the patient painkillers and / or tranquilizers. It is suggested that visitors should not be taken because the patient will be radioactive during the application, especially children and pregnant women should not enter the room.
- Permanent brachytherapy: Radioactive seeds are placed in or near the tumor and are left here permanently. After a few months, the level of radioactivity of the implants diminishes near the tama. The seeds whose activity ends are then retained in the body and do not cause permanent side effects in the patient. It is most commonly used in the brachytherapy of prostate cancer.
Who does brachytherapy practice?
When performing brachytherapy, an experienced treatment team is needed, including a radiation oncologist, a medical physicist, a radiotherapy nurse, and in some cases a surgeon. Your doctor, who is a radiation oncologist, is the physician who evaluates the patient and determines the appropriate treatment. The medical physicist then makes detailed treatment calculations. Radiotherapy nurse informs the patient during the treatment and warns for possible side effects and helps to apply.
How will you feel during brachytherapy?
Brachytherapy is usually a painless procedure, with the application varying according to the shape. Gynecological practices can cause temporary pressure in the groin due to equipment placed in the vaginal cavity. If you see your doctor, you may be advised to take sedation or pain medication before starting the procedure, so an intravenous catheter can be placed in your arm or hand. You will need to be alone in the treatment room during the procedure, but you can talk to your treatment team via the camera system and microphone that sees the room.
Do I spread radiation after brachytherapy?
Depending on the type of brachytherapy, you can return home the same day after the application or you can stay in a room in the hospital. Temporary brachytherapy, after you leave the hospital, does not have any radiation in your body, so there is no risk for your enrollment. The necessary measures and recommendations in permanent brachytherapy will be explained by your doctor.