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Brachytherapy

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Brachytherapy, also called internal radiation therapy, is a type of radiation to treat cancer. The source of radiation is placed in your body or on an area of your body close to the tumor. It is used to shrink the tumor or kill the cancer cells. Brachytherapy may be used with other treatments such as external radiation therapy, medicines, and surgery.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Tests may be needed before your treatment to check the location, shape, and size of your tumor.
  • An enema may be needed if you have prostate cancer. An enema is liquid put into your rectum to help empty your bowel.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Anesthesia:
    • General anesthesia keeps you asleep and free from pain during the procedure.
    • Local anesthesia is a shot of numbing medicine put into the skin where you will have treatment. You may feel pressure or pushing during your treatment, but you should not have pain. You may be given medicine to keep you calm and relaxed during the treatment.

During your procedure:

The procedure depends on many things, such as where the tumor or tumors are in your body. During brachytherapy, radioactive seeds are placed inside or around the tumor. Seeds are small objects that give off radiation (x-ray energy) in all directions. They can be placed on the skin, in an organ, or in a body cavity. Body cavities are openings in your body, such as your nose, mouth, and vagina. Some seeds can be left in your body permanently, while others will be removed. Brachytherapy may be given in several treatments. You may need to stay in the hospital during this procedure. You may need to return to have treatment every day for about a week.

After your procedure:

You will be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room.

RISKS:

Radiation kills cancer cells, but it can also harm healthy cells. You may feel very tired during brachytherapy treatment. You may cough up blood or have blood in your saliva. You may be at an increased risk for urinary tract infections. You may have swelling and pain in organs or tissues. Women may have trouble getting pregnant. Your stomach, bowels, or other organs may not work as well as before, or they may stop working.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Brachytherapy (Inpatient Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.