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Brachytherapy is one of the methods of cancer radiotherapy. Thanks to it, treatment is shorter, the risk of complications is low, and the patient quickly returns to activity after the therapy. However, most importantly - brachytherapy works in the treatment of the most common types of cancer, such as cancer of the cervix, breast or prostate. Check what brachytherapy is all about.

Brachytherapy(Greekbrachy- up close) is one of the methods of cancer radiotherapy, which consists in temporary placement with a special applicator radioactive isotopes directly in the tumor or in the site after its removal in order to destroy diseased tissues.

Brachytherapy - indications

Brachytherapy can be used in cancer :

  • of reproductive organs ( brachytherapy for cervical canceror its shaft, vagina, vulva)
  • breasts
  • prostate
  • head and neck
  • digestive tract (esophagus, cardia, biliary tract, pancreas, anus)
  • airways (trachea, bronchi, lungs)
  • soft tissues, retroperitoneal space (sarcomas)
  • urethra
  • keloids (keloids - non-oncological)

Brachytherapy is usually used in conjunction with other treatments - most often with radiotherapy and / or surgery. As an independent method of treatment, it is used only in certain situations.

Brachytherapy - types

Due to the intensity of the radiation dose administered at a specific time, brachytherapy is distinguished

  • HDR (High Dose Rate) - this method uses radioactive isotopes with a high dose rate. They are placed inside the tumor for only a few minutes. However, as a result, the number of treatments is greater than in other types of brachytherapy, and the radiation intervals are several days
  • LDR (Low Dose Rate) - the patient is irradiated continuously for several or several hours
  • PDR (Pulse Dose Rate) - in this method, radiation is given in the form of pulses
  • with the use of permanent implants - consists in a single implantation of radioactive grains within the tumor permanently. This treatment method is in clinical trials

Moreoverbrachytherapy is distinguished:

  • intraoperative - involves the intraoperative placement of applicators after tumor removal and administration of 7 to 8 fractions of HDR radiation
  • palliative - when the goal of treatment is only to reduce the tumor mass or remove or alleviate disease symptoms

Brachytherapy - how is it going?

1. The patient is given a short (about 20 minutes) general anesthesia, although in some cases (e.g. in the treatment of cancer of the lip, cheek, salivary gland) local anesthesia is sufficient2. Identify the tumor by X-ray or ultrasound

Brachytherapy is reimbursed by the National He alth Fund

3. Under ultrasound or X-ray control, applicators are placed through the skin into the tumor. They are used for the safe administration of radiation4. After placing the applicators in the right place, a series of scans is performed using a computer tomograph5. After waking up, the patient goes to a special bunker of the Brachytherapy Unit. There, applicators previously placed in the patient's body are connected to a brachytherapy device, which sends a radioactive source to them. The radiation process only takes a few minutes (in the case of the HDR method) and then you cannot move. During radiation, the medical staff is in a different room, but they have contact with the patient6. After irradiation, the applicators are removed from the patient's body7. The patient stays in the hospital for 1 day

Brachytherapy - advantages

Brachytherapy enables the treatment of neoplasms with high accuracy. The dose of radiation intended for the patient is precisely administered to the tumor by special applicators placed inside it. As a result, small doses of radiation reach the he althy organs surrounding the tumor, which reduces the risk of complications.

It should also be noted that in this method it is possible to inject more than the standard radiation dose into the tumor. As a result, the treatment time is shortened.

In addition, brachytherapy is less burdensome for patients than other cancer treatments. In addition, the patient quickly returns to normal activities after the end of treatment.

Brachytherapy - side effects

There may be reddening of a small area of ​​he althy skin or peeling of the epidermis, as well as oozing of serous contents, itching, less often pain.

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Where are the brachytherapy units?

Brachytherapy units are located, among others in:

  • Oncology Center in Gliwice
  • Regional Oncology Center in the Provincial Specialist Hospital M. Kopernika in Łódź
  • Greater Poland Cancer Center in Poznań
  • Oncology Center prof. Łukaszczyk in Bydgoszcz
  • Oncology Center, Institute of Maria Skłodowskiej-Curie in Warsaw

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