"They explained things about my prostate cancer so I could understand them. They are really friendly. Being friendly means a lot when you have cancer."
- Lynn

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Brachytherapy

High-Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy used to treat breast cancer, prostate cancer and various other cancers. Brachytherapy is used to eliminate cancer cells with a high degree of precision by destroying the cells internally, completely within the body. Gamma West is one of the largest Brachytherapy clinics in the U.S. and every one of our radiation oncologists is certified with the American Board of Radiology. Our radiation oncologists have collectively performed tens of thousands of Brachytherapy procedures, meaning your team of experts is focused on you achieving the most successful clinical outcome possible.

Brachytherapy is a type of cancer treatment that involves the temporary placement of radiation directly inside the body, in or near the tumor, for a short period of time and is then withdrawn. Radiation is placed inside slim applicators and delivered specifically to the tumor in a short burst, lasting only a few minutes. These applicators are then removed after the treatment is administered.

Treatment for Breast Cancer

Brachytherapy to treat breast cancer is typically delivered after surgery. Brachytherapy treatment involves placing a slim applicator containing radiation directly into the breast tissue for a short time in the area where the cancer has been removed.

Treatment for Prostate Cancer

This Brachytherapy treatment involves placing a slim applicator directly into the prostate gland to eliminate cancer cells while also preserving surrounding healthy tissue. Treatment can also include a wider area around the prostate, so early spread beyond the gland capsule can also be targeted, if necessary.

Benefits of HDR Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy allows your radiation oncologist to precisely deliver the specified dose of radiation to the cancer cells, while more accurately limiting any exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. Brachytherapy typically consists of one or two radiation treatments administered in a single day. It may also involve less down-time than other cancer treatment methods, and the overall treatment time is usually shorter with Brachytherapy.

Breast Cancer – What to Expect

You will have a meeting with your oncologist to get a medical history, exam and imaging. Your doctor will discuss your treatment options, possible side effects and what to expect during and after treatment.

When you arrive at the clinic, we will take you into a treatment room and help you get comfortable. A compassionate team of experts will be providing your care, including your oncologist, a dosimetrist (radiation dosage expert) and a radiation therapist.

Your doctor will clean your skin, numb the area and make a small incision. A small flexible applicator will be gently implanted into the lumpectomy cavity and inflated to fit the cavity. The applicator will be connected to a computer that inserts tiny seeds of radiation for 10-20 minutes twice a day for five days. The applicator will stay in place until all the treatments are done.

Your oncologist will deflate the applicator and remove it once the treatments are done and discuss any activity restrictions you may have while healing.

Prostate Cancer – What to Expect

You will have a meeting with your oncologist to get a medical history, exam and imaging. Your doctor will discuss your treatment options, possible side effects and what to expect during and after treatment.

When you arrive for your treatment, we will take you into a procedure room and help you get comfortable. A combination of regional anesthetic and sedation are used make you as comfortable as possible. Small catheters (small tubes) will be precisely inserted into the prostate and a radiation source will be placed inside them later in the day. You will receive two radiation treatments. The first in the morning soon after the implant procedure, the second approximately five hours later.

During the five hour period of time between radiation treatments, you will be in our Gamma West office. We have our own space at each location where your family is welcome to come and go as they please. You will want to bring a good book to read or an electronic device of your choice to pass the time. Although you get sedation medicine in the morning for the procedure, it will wear off and you will be awake during the five hour period of time. Some patients catch up on their sleep during this time as well. Our nursing staff will constantly be monitoring you and managing your care.

After the second treatment, the catheters will be removed and you will be discharged from the clinic.

If you are being treated by brachytherapy alone, you will return for two more implant procedures separated by two-week breaks. If you are higher risk, you may be treated by external beam radiation for 5 weeks followed by two brachytherapy implants scheduled two weeks apart.