Brachytherapy is an internal form of treatment where the radiation dose is given either inside or right next to the area of the body affected by cancer. There are two main forms of brachytherapy, high-dose rate (HDR) and low-dose rate (LDR); both of which are offered by Coastal Radiation Oncology.
High-dose-rate Brachytherapy (HDR) is a dependable and highly developed form of internal radiation therapy delivered through catheters to the exact site of a cancerous tumor. The procedure is typically repeated over several treatments to quickly deliver a high dose of radiation to the tumor. Compared to low-dose-rate radioactive (LDR) that are implanted for extended periods of time, the higher doses used in HDR brachytherapy deliver equivalent radiation in just a few minutes by inserting and then removing the radioactive material. HDR brachytherapy may be used as the only treatment or it may be combined in a treatment plan with external radiation therapy. HDR treatment is often faster than other types of treatment, and can be performed on an outpatient basis. Most importantly, the precision and limited exposure to healthy tissue HDR provides translates to excellent success rates for certain types of cancers.
LDR Brachytherapy The traditional form of brachytherapy is where a group of small radiation sources are placed inside of or next to a tumor. These small sources or “seeds” give out radiation dose at a slow rate over a period of several days to weeks or even months. This type of treatment is called Low Dose Rate (LDR) brachytherapy and is commonly used in the treatment of prostate cancers and also melanomas of the eye. LDR brachytherapy is commonly performed by two doctors at once, a surgeon and a radiation oncologist. Because the radiation dose is given off a small amount at a time, the radiation seeds typically stay inside the body permanently. Over time, they lose their radioactivity and eventually become inert tiny pieces of metal. It is important that this procedure be performed by a doctor with special training in this procedure. Coastal Radiation Oncology offers LDR Brachytherapy for Prostate cancer through its Ventura office.