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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.


The week before your procedure:

  • Arrange for someone to drive you to and from your treatments.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about all your allergies. Include medicines, antibiotics, and contrast liquid.
  • You may need x-rays, a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound to check the location, shape, and size of your tumor. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before your procedure:

You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

The day of your procedure:

  • Take only the medicines you were told to take.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.


What will happen:

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.


  • You have a fever.
  • You get a cold or flu.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


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.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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 (Precare)

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Further information

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