HIGH-DOSE RATE (HDR) BRACHYTHERAPY
Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy in which seeds, ribbons, or capsules that contain a radiation source are placed in your body, in or near the tumor. Brachytherapy is a local treatment and treats only a specific part of your body. It is often used to treat cancers of the head and neck, breast, cervix, prostate, and eye.
Types of External Beam Radiation Therapy
There are many types of external beam radiation therapy, all of which share the goal of delivering the highest prescribed dose of radiation to the tumor while sparing the normal tissue around it. Each type relies on a computer to analyze images of the tumor in order to calculate the most precise dose and treatment path possible.
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy
Image-guided radiation therapy
Stereotactic body radiation therapy
What to Expect When Having High-dose Rate Brachytherapy
How Often You Will Have High-dose Rate Brachytherapy
You may have treatment twice a day for 2 to 5 days or once a week for 2 to 5 weeks. The schedule depends on your type of cancer. During the course of treatment, your catheter or applicator may stay in place, or it may be put in place before each treatment.
Where You Go for High-dose Rate Brachytherapy
You may be in the hospital during this time, or you may make daily trips to the hospital to have the radiation source put in place.
What to Wear for Your Treatments
Wear clothes that are comfortable and made of soft fabric, such as fleece or cotton. Choose clothes that are easy to take off, since you may need to expose the treatment area or change into a hospital gown. Do not wear clothes that are tight, such as close-fitting collars or waistbands, near your treatment area. Also, do not wear jewelry, adhesive bandages, or powder in the treatment area.
What Happens During a Treatment Session
The radiation therapist will leave the room just before your treatment begins. He or she will go to a nearby room to control the radiation machine. The therapist watches you on a TV screen or through a window and talks with you through a speaker in the treatment room. Make sure to tell the therapist if you feel sick or are uncomfortable. He or she can stop the radiation machine at any time. You will hear the radiation machine and see it moving around, but you won’t be able to feel, hear, see, or smell the radiation.
Most visits last from 30 minutes to an hour, with most of that time spent placing you in the correct position.