Information about Brachytherapy
Brachytherapy is a special type of radiation therapy. Radiation is only applied directly in the tissue affected by the tumour.
A needle is inserted into the centre of the tumour under CT monitoring. For a short period of time (1 – 2 minutes) a radioactive source (iridium 192) is transferred via needle into the tumour, which is then irradiated from within with a lethal dose for cancer cells. After this short treatment, the radioactive source is removed together with the needle. After removal the patient is free of any radioactivity. The intervention is carried out under analgosedation (twilight sleep) and is not painful. The patient remains in hospital for 7 – 14 days to be monitored by the physicians. If after 5 – 7 days a disintegration of the tumour with tissue healing has started, the patient may suffer from mild fever, loss of appetite, joint aches, as it occurs with a flu. In case of very large tumours additional pain that can be treated very well with painkillers may appear. In this case hospitalization can be extended for another week. In general, however, any course of therapy is individual and depending on the patient’s state of health prior to therapy. That is why the patient will be taken care of by our physicians daily during hospitalization.
Brachytherapy is a so-called “micro therapy”, minimally invasive and patient friendly. Unlike standard radiotherapy, with brachytherapy the healthy tissue remains largely unscathed, which in turn results in fewer side effects.
Brachytherapy is applied in the treatment of many types of cancer, and studies confirm that it offers significant advantages to other therapy options. This method can be used alone or in combination with other methods (chemotherapy, surgery, immune-therapy etc.).
- Heinz R. Zurbrügg, MD, PhD, head of tumour board, oncological surgery
- Geetha Sreenivasa, MD, radiotherapy