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The Cancer Care Center
Brachytherapy is different from external beam therapy (EBT), because in EBT, an external machine delivers high-energy X-ray beams to the tumor site. In brachytherapy, radioactive material is placed directly inside or near the tumor.
Brachytherapy allows your St. Anthony's Cancer Care Center doctors to use a higher dosage of radiation to treat a smaller area while sparing the surrounding tissue.
Some skin cancers can be treated with brachytherapy; patients undergo six treatments twice a week instead of four weeks of treatment. A mold and disk sit on your skin and the radiation is delivered through that.
Temporary or permanent brachytherapy
Brachytherapy can be temporary, in which the seed is placed for a specified amount of time and then removed. It can also be given as permanent brachytherapy, in which the seed is placed near the tumor and left inside permanently. After a period of time, usually a few weeks or months, the radioactivity level of the seeds diminishes, and the inactive seeds remain inside your body.
What can I expect from brachytherapy?
- First, your radiation oncologist meets with you to determine the best radiation therapy for you, what part of your body needs treatment and how much radiation to deliver.
- If necessary, your surgeon helps place any devices necessary, such as a catheter or needle.
- The radiation oncologist calculates the radiation amount.
- A computer is used to help calculate the exact position in your body where the radiation needs to go.
- You undergo any necessary preparations, including X-rays, pretreatment scans, blood tests or an EKG.
- The radioactive material or special applicator is placed at the treatment site.
- Your radiation oncologist confirms that the devices are properly positioned.
- The radiation is inserted; imaging techniques such as X-rays, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRIs) may be used to help position the radioactive material.
For information about St. Anthony's Cancer Care Center - St. Louis, please call 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
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