Cancer Treatment

Cancer Treatment

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    Brachytherapy uses small pellets of radioactive material placed next to or directly into the cancer. The radiation travels only a short distance, limiting the effects on surrounding healthy tissues. It is sometimes used to treat people with rectal cancer, particularly people who are not healthy enough to tolerate curative surgery. This is generally a one-time only procedure and doesn't require daily visits for several weeks.
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    Brachytherapy is the installation of high-dose but localized radiation inside the bronchial tubes for the treatment of tumors that may be producing symptoms such as coughing of blood, shortness of breath, pneumonia, and chest pain. This can be very effective for symptom relief in patients who have been previously treated or are undergoing other cancer treatment.
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    High-dose-rate brachytherapy uses a computerized robotic-delivery device to temporarily insert a tiny radiation source into a tumor. It is performed by inserting thin, straw-like applicators about the size of an intravenous line in or near the treatment site.

    Once the applicator has been optimally positioned, the doctors work with a treatment-planning computer program to create a virtual image of the implant and surrounding anatomy so they can customize a precise, person-specific dose distribution. Electronic instructions for positioning the miniature radioactive source are then sent to a robotic “afterloader,” which is operated by a specially trained therapist to deliver the radiation source.

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    A , Hematology & Oncology, answered
    After permanent brachytherapy for prostate cancer, there is a small risk that the seeds will be discharged during urination, so some doctors suggest straining the urine for a few days, though iodine seeds can be flushed down the toilet. In rare cases, when seeds are not connected together, a seed can enter the bloodstream and travel to the lungs or another part of the body. (Most seeds are linked.) The radiation emitted by a single seed is low, so it shouldn't pose any significant health problems, but it may in rare circumstances.
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    A , Radiation Oncology, answered
    What is prostate brachytherapy?
    In this video, Roger Hansen, MD, a radiation oncologist discusses prostate brachytherapy -- a procedure where small radioactive seeds are placed into the prostate for treating cancer.
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    Partial breast brachytherapy is a breast conserving therapy that has become a major treatment modality for Stage I and II breast cancer for people who have undergone a lumpectomy. One type of partial breast treatment technique is referred to as MammoSite Breast Brachytherapy. Treatment of breast cancer with MammoSite usually involves a five-day treatment course (2 times a day) with each treatment taking about 15 minutes each. After the breast cancer is removed, a small, soft balloon attached to a thin catheter is placed inside the lumpectomy cavity. The balloon is filled with saline solution and remains in place during the five-day treatment. During the twice-per-day treatments, the catheter is attached to a computer-controlled HDR brachytherapy unit, which inserts the radioactive sources according to the treatment plan. Partial breast brachytherapy is delivered directly to the cavity from which the breast cancer was removed rather than to the entire breast, which allows for a much higher daily dose compared to that used during the standard whole breast radiation therapy and often yields excellent cosmetic results. At the end of the five days, the treatment is complete and the catheter is removed.

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    Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) is used to treat cancer. With internal radiation therapy, a radiologist places radioactive material inside the body. These “seeds” give off radiation to destroy nearby cancer cells. The seeds may be placed inside the body with needles, catheters or minor surgeries. Some of the seeds are permanent, and some are temporary. The permanent seeds stop giving off radiation over time. They do no damage by remaining in the body.
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    High-dose rate brachytherapy (HDR) treatment refers to the use of a temporary, but very intense, radiation source, placed inside a tumor or body cavity where cancer may be present. HDR brachytherapy is delivered quickly (a fast "rate" of delivery) and is typically done in an outpatient setting, and may or may not require any use of sedation or anesthesia. Many types of cancer may be treated with HDR brachytherapy, including gynecologic cancers (cervix, endometrial, vagina), lung cancer with airway tumor obstruction, and breast cancer when only partial breast radiation is needed. HDR brachytherapy may be combined with external beam radiation, depending upon clinical circumstances.
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    Brachytherapy for cervical cancer involves inserting small amounts of radioactive material into or around the cancer, typically through your vagina. It's more targeted, affecting less healthy tissue than external beam radiation, and may use a higher radiation dosage so fewer treatments are required. Side effects may include fatigue, vaginal irritation, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.
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    Nearly half of all people with cancer receive radiation therapy to treat their cancer or relieve symptoms. Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by destroying their DNA, but it may also affect normal cells and adjacent organs in the process. The goal of brachytherapy, or internal radiation therapy, is to precisely target the radiation exposure to the tumor where it is needed and avoid surrounding healthy tissues by placing radioactive sources directly on or inside cancer tissues.

    “By treating the tumor from the inside out, we can rapidly deliver higher doses of radiation to the tumor, with relatively few side effects,” explains UCLA radiation oncologist and chief of the Division of Brachytherapy D. Jeffrey Demanes, MD, a pioneer of high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy. HDR brachytherapy has been used successfully to treat prostate, breast, head and neck, gynecologic, gastrointestinal, skin, soft tissue sarcomas and many other types of cancer. “In some cases, it is used as the only treatment, and in other cases, this precision radiation therapy is combined with surgery, external-beam radiation therapy or chemotherapy, depending upon the type and extent of the cancer and needs of the individual patient,” Dr. Demanes says.

    HDR brachytherapy uses a computerized robotic-delivery device to temporarily insert a tiny radiation source into a tumor. It is performed by inserting thin, straw-like applicators about the size of an intravenous line in or near the treatment site.
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