Brachytherapy is a treatment in which a protected radiation source
is placed directly within or near the tumor site. Brachytherapy is
sometimes also called internal radiation therapy. As compared
to low-dose rate brachytherapy, HDR brachytherapy is typically more
convenient because it involves a shortened treatment time, smaller
applicators, and can often be done as an outpatient.
Patients who can receive high-dose rate brachytherapy
The Stanford Cancer Center offers HDR brachytherapy to gynecological
cancer patients, and in clinical trials of MammoSite
brachytherapyto breast cancer patients. In addition,
patients with head and neck cancer, gynecological cancer, pulmonary
cancer, and other local regional tumors can be considered for HDR
brachytherapy on an individual basis.
Benefits of high-dose rate brachytherapy
HDR brachytherapy allows highly localized doses of radiation to be
delivered to the tumor quickly and without radiation exposure to your
family or the hospital staff. Because HDR brachytherapy is performed
on an outpatient basis it is much more convenient and cost-effective
than LDR brachytherapy which usually requires a hospital stay.
In addition, LDR brachytherapy often requires patients to remain as
still as possible for days at a time, exposing them to risk of deep
vein thrombosis. This risk is eliminated with the much more rapid HDR
brachytherapy. Finally, the treatment planning system permits doctors
to precisely control the amount of radiation delivered to the region,
and to limit the amount of radiation that reaches nearby healthy tissue.