Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy allowing your Miami Cancer Institute radiation therapy experts to focus radiation sources precisely and directly on your tumor while significantly minimizing radiation exposure to the rest of your body.
There are two forms of brachytherapy currently available for patients treated at the Institute.
One form of brachytherapy, called Permanent Low Dose Rate (or LDR) therapy, involves placing seeds directly into a tumor. Each seed, about the size of a grain of rice, delivers radiation directly to cancer cells over a period of time, essentially from the inside out. Placing the seeds directly into the tumor limits the amount of radiation delivered to normal surrounding tissues.
After treatment, the seeds can be left in place because they lose their radiation strength over time. Eventually, they are no longer radioactive, so they can be safely left inside the body without need for another surgery to retrieve them.
The other form of brachytherapy available at the Institute, called High Dose Rate (or HDR) therapy, enables the specialists to use a catheter (a flexible tube) or an applicator to guide a single radioactive source in the tumor. After HDR treatment, the experts remove the source, along with the catheter or applicator.
Brachytherapy is especially suited for prostate or gynecologic cancers (such as cervical or endometrial cancer).
In addition to seeds or catheters, radiation therapy can also be delivered by injecting a tumor-specific drug. This is known as Radionuclide Therapy.
One form of Radionuclide Therapy is called liver radio-embolization, in which the Institute’s specialists can treat certain liver cancers by injecting radioactive microspheres (tiny, hollow, round particles injected into the blood vessels that feed a tumor*) directly into the tumor.
Other radioactive therapies offered at the Cancer Institute include:
- Xofigo: an injectable radioactive drug used to treat painful sites of disease that has spread into the bones in patients with metastatic prostate cancer.
- Zevalin: an injectable radioactive drug used in conjunction with Rituximab to treat some patients with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- I-131: an oral radioactive drug used to treat certain thyroid cancers in conjunction with surgery, as well as to treat certain benign (non-cancerous) thyroid conditions.
To find out if Brachytherapy or Radionuclide Therapy may be right for you, your Miami Cancer Institute team of experts will discuss with you which therapy is best suited for your individual treatment needs.