Most normal tissues can withstand five to six weeks of external radiation without unacceptable risk of complications. Conventional external beam radiation has to travel through the body to reach the cancer cells, whereas Brachytherapy
allows radiation sources to be put inside or in close proximity of the tumor.
“A patient with a tumor that measures one to two centimeters or smaller requires six to seven weeks of external radiation, which exceeds most normal tissues’ tolerance,” says Brij M. Sood, MD
, director of the Radiation Oncology Department and the PinnacleHealth Cancer Center. “Now we can treat this type of tumor with Brachytherapy alone or use Brachytherapy as a boost, in combination with external beam radiation, to keep normal tissues doses within acceptable levels.”
You Have Options
Brachytherapy is also known as internal radiation and has proved especially useful for patients who have small tumors or tumors that have recurred after conventional therapies including radiation have failed.
“Brachytherapy is an effective treatment for many types of cancer including prostate, breast, gynecological, lung, and head and neck cancer as well as other cancers when used alone or combined with surgery,” Dr. Sood says. “In selected patients, survival rates for prostate and breast cancer after treatment with Brachytherapy is comparable to surgery, while in other cancers, Brachytherapy improves local control. Today, most Brachytherapy treatments can be completed as outpatient procedures in five days or less, compared to
seven to nine weeks of external radiation therapy. We are excited to offer patients this advanced treatment option.”