With brachytherapy, radioactive material is placed inside your body close to the cancer. It is a type of "internal" radiation therapy that is effective in treating cancer that is confined to a small area of the body, including breast, lung, cervical, gynecological and prostate cancers.

Brachytherapy allows doctors to deliver higher dosages of radiation than with conventional "external" radiation therapy – which is projected from a machine outside of the body. It usually causes fewer side effects and has a shorter length of treatment, so you can get back to work or to normal activities sooner.

Depending on your situation, the treatment options include:

  • High-dose-rate seed implants – an outpatient procedure that lasts only 10-20 minutes, usually over a number of sessions.
  • Low-dose-rate seed implants – a continuous low dose of radiation is released over a period of several hours to several days, and during   that time, you’ll stay in the hospital.
  • Permanent seed implants – sometimes used with prostate cancer, the implants always stay in your body, and release radiation slowly   until they are no longer radioactive.

Mercy doctors and cancer specialists are skilled in using brachytherapy as well as other types of radiation therapy to treat cancer. We’ll discuss the risks and benefits of each treatment option, and make sure you understand your choices. Together, we’ll decide on the treatment plan that works best for you.

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