Brachytherapy Department of Rahjoyan Salamat Center
Brachytherapy can be used for head and neck, breast, uterus, etc. cancers. Also, the patient may be treated with internal radiotherapy along with other treatments such as internal radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery. Brachytherapy or internal radiation therapy is a technique to treat cancer. In common radiation therapy, radioactive rays are irradiated from outside the patient’s body, but in brachytherapy, the source of radioactive rays is placed inside the tumor tissue or close to it. In brachytherapy, the treatment is only limited to the tumor and healthy tissues are not harmed. Brachytherapy can be used in head and neck, breast, cervix, prostate, gallbladder, esophagus, eye, lung, etc. cancers. Internal radiation therapy may be performed on an outpatient or inpatient basis. This method is usually used beside other treatment methods such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery.
What is brachytherapy and how it is performed
In brachytherapy, one or more solid radioactive sources are usually implanted in the form of seeds, tapes or capsules inside the tumor tissue or close to it. With this technique, a high dose of radioactive radiation reaches the cancerous tissue in a short time and causes less damage to the patient’s healthy tissue. Sometimes in internal radiation therapy, a liquid radioactive source is used. This type of brachytherapy may be accompanied by drinking liquid, swallowing pills or intravenous injection. This method is used to treat thyroid cancers and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Brachytherapy is rarely used in children, but it is a suitable option in the treatment of rare children’s cancers such as Rhabdomyosarcoma. Before starting the brachytherapy process, the patient is given a sedative. If the patient is conscious, he is asked to refrain from moving during the operation.
A narrow and flexible metal or iron tube called applicator or catheter is usually used to perform brachytherapy. To perform brachytherapy, the doctor inserts a catheter or applicator that contains radioactive materials into the patient’s body. In order to implant radioactive sources, various imaging methods such as ultrasound, CT scan and MRI are used. The radiation source can remain in the patient’s body for several minutes to several days and even for the rest of his life. The length of time that the radioactive material remains inside the body depends on the type of brachytherapy, the type of cancer and its degree of progression, the location of the tumor, the patient’s general health and previous treatments.