BRACHYTHERAPY FOR PROSTATE CANCER
Used to treat prostate cancer in Casper, Laramie, and Lander, WY
WHAT IS BRACHYTHERAPY?
Brachytherapy is a process by which radiation pellets are placed inside the body to treat the tumor from the inside out. There are two types of brachytherapy: low dose rate brachytherapy (LDR) and high dose rate brachytherapy (HDR). Both can be used to treat prostate cancer.
LDR brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy that delivers a high dose of radiation at a low-dose rate from implants placed permanently in the organ. HDR brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy that delivers a high dose of radiation from implants temporarily placed close to, or inside, the tumor in the body.
HOW DOES BRACHYTHERAPY WORK?
In LDR, radioactive pellets, or seeds, are permanently implanted into the organ. These pellets emit low levels of radiation for several weeks. When this radiation treatment ends, the harmless seeds are left in place permanently.
In HDR, catheters are placed into the cancer tissue after which a computer driven apparatus pushes the radiation seeds through the catheters to the tumor site. The source remains in place for a few minutes. When the desired dose has been achieved, the apparatus removes the pellets.
HOW DOES RADIATION WORK TO TREAT PROSTATE CANCER?
Radiation creates small breaks in the DNA in cancer cells. These breaks damage the DNA, hindering the cells’ ability to divide. If the cells cannot divide, the tumor cannot grow.
WHICH OTHER TYPES OF CANCERS CAN BE TREATED WITH BRACHYTHERAPY?
- Cervical cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Previously irradiated tumors
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Lung cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Head and Neck cancer
- Anal/Rectal cancer
HOW LONG IS TREATMENT?
Treatment times depend on many factors such as the location, type and size of the cancer. Some HDR brachytherapy treatments are delivered only once, whereas other treatments may require the patient to come in once or twice a day for a period of one or more weeks. Treatment is administered in a few minutes.
LDR brachytherapy is a one-time procedure performed on an outpatient basis. The procedure itself generally takes about an hour.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS ASSOCIATED WITH BRACHYTHERAPY?
Brachytherapy is usually well tolerated. Side effects are generally specific to the area being treated and may include some tenderness and swelling in that location. Because brachytherapy is hyper-focused on a small area, there may be fewer side effects than with other treatments. A patient who notices changes that are concerning should notify the treatment team.