Brachytherapy is generally used for locally advanced disease. The technique utilizes seeds of radioactive material that release radiation. The seeds are placed temporarily directly into the area from where the cancer was removed, for a few days to a few weeks, depending on the desired length of the treatment.
Kathleen L. Schneekloth, MD – “…’brachy’ stands for short distance radiation…”
A computer is used to determine the exact placement of the radioactive material so that the radiation can cover the entire cancer area, with the least effect on healthy tissues around the tumor.
Brachytherapy can also be used instead of surgery for elderly or sick patients who cannot endure a surgical procedure. In these cases, the radioactive material is inserted into or near the tumor.
The side effects of brachytherapy are usually less severe than those of external beam therapy, because the treatment dose is more confined. And unlike external beam therapy, brachytherapy does not require daily visits to the treatment facility.