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Implant radiotherapy

Implant radiotherapy

A treatment called brachytherapy is used to treat many cancers as well as other diseases. The tumor is exposed to radioactive substances in this process. At times, this is known as "internal radiation therapy", when radioactive source is placed inside your body.


Brachytherapy is less prevalent than another form of radiation, which is known as external radiation. During external radiation, a machine rotates around you while emitting radiation beams at specified body area.


As opposed to external radiation, brachytherapy enables your medical team to provide larger radiation doses to the tumor with minimal dose to normal tissue. This is due to the direct delivery of radiation to the treated region through brachytherapy. This reduces the possibility of damaging neighboring healthy tissue.


Brachytherapy allows for the safe delivery of a higher radiation dose all at once, which can result in a shorter overall treatment period. Also it is sometime necessary as part of your treatment regimen after completion of external beam radiotherapy.




Treatment duration and dose for brachytherapy treatments vary.

Implants for brachytherapy include:

  • Low-dose rate (LDR): Between one and seven days, LDR implants continually deliver low amounts of radiation. You will probably remain in the hospital during treatment because you may harm others with radiation during this period.
  • High-dose rate (HDR) : For 10 to 20 minutes, HDR implants produce high doses of radiation. From twice daily for up to 5 days to once weekly for upto five weeks or so. However treatment schedules might vary depending upon the treatment protocol.
  • Permanent radioactive implants: These continuously produce radiation, and as time passes, their radioactivity level rapidly declines until it reaches zero. The seeds, or implants, which are approximately the equivalent of a rice grain, stay inside your body.



The implant treatment is often carried out in an operating room of a hospital that is built to contain radiation. You will be given anesthesia, which may be general (drugs will be used to send you into a deep sleep so that you won't feel pain) or localized (where part of your body is numbed).


An applicator, either a metal tube or a plastic tube known as a catheter, is used to insert one or more implants into the body cavity or tissue. During the process, imaging tests (such as an x-ray, ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan) are frequently performed to determine the precise location where the implant should be placed.


Implants are first stored in canisters that contain the radiation, preventing it from spreading to other people. When handling the implants, medical workers may put on protective equipment to keep them from being exposed to the elements.




Brachytherapy is typically used by doctors for cancer of the prostate, cervix, uterus, and vagina. Other malignancies, including those of the breast, penis, back channel (rectum), and eyes, may also be treated with it. You could only have access to brachytherapy as a form of radiation. Alternatively, external radiation may be used for treatment.




Internal radiation, also known as brachytherapy, is the use of radioactive source within your body to eradicate a tumor. However in external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) a machine is used  to send radiation beams through your skin and into the tumor. Brachytherapy is less prevalent than external radiation. However for certain malignancies and treatment protocol, it might be the only option.


Risks and recovery:


Brachytherapy might have side effects that are particular to the location being treated. Only the small treatment region is affected by brachytherapy since it concentrates radiation there to a smaller area.

Possible side effects of therapy include soreness and edema. Find out what additional side effects to look out for by asking your doctor.


For temporary implants, anesthesia is often not required for removing the applicator and/or implant. Typically, it takes place in a hospital room. After treatment, the treated region could be uncomfortable or sensitive for a while, but for the most part, patients can immediately resume their regular activities. The following few days may require more sleep or rest periods since your body is still healing from radiation treatments.


For permanent implants, Over time, the radioactive materials cease emitting radiation. It might take weeks or even months. Ask your cancer treatment staff how long it will take in your specific situation. The implant(s) are no longer functional when the radiation has subsided. There is no need to remove them because they often remain in situ and pose no threat.




Brachytherapy delivers radiation into or near a tumor to destroy cancer cells while exposing healthy tissue to minimal radiation doses. It can be an effective treatment option for local tumors such as breast, prostate, cervical, and uterine cancers. Your healthcare provider will provide guidance on the best treatment approach and  how to manage side effects and take care of yourself during brachytherapy.

Medanta Medical Team
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