Applications of Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy works by having small catheters or applicators placed in the tumor. The catheters are connected to a high-dose rate offloader machine. This machine contains a very high radioactive iridium pellet at the end of a wire. The radioactive pellets under computer control are pushed inside the catheters or applicators. The computer controlled machine controls the period the pellets stay inside the catheters and at what position inside the catheter should the pellets release their radiation. With accurate placing of catheters inside the tumor, brachytherapy provides a very precise method for treating cancer (Fischer, 2011). Once treatment has being accomplished, the catheters or applicators are removed. This ensures that there are no radioactive seeds left in the patient’s body. The exact treatment depends on the size, location and shape of the tumor. Brachytherapy is used to treat the following types of tumors. They include prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, cervical cancer, head and neck cancer and sarcomas. This therapy enables the application of high radiation dose in a small affected area. This reduces the risk of exposing the adjacent healthy tissues to radiation. This reduces the side effect experienced by the patient after treatment. One of the advantages of this therapy is that the recovery period is short and the patients resume their daily activities after a few days (Fischer, 2011). Prostrate brachytherapy is used in the treatment of prostate cancer. Prostate gland is located under the bladders and in front of the rectum. It is important to focus the radiation on the prostate gland to avoid exposing radiation to the nearby healthy cells. There are two methods used for prostrate brachytherapy. They include. permanent seed implantation and high-dose rate temporary brachytherapy. Permanent seed implantation is used in early-localized prostate cancer. To carry out the procedure an ultrasound probe is inserted through the rectum. This probe captures images that show the size and shape of the patient’s prostate gland. This is done to determine how to deliver the right radiation dose.100 radioactive seeds are then injected directly in to the prostrate. An ultra sound probe helps guide the oncologist in inserting the radioactive seeds into the right position (Langley et al., 2008). These radioactive seeds release radiation at a low dose rate for a given period and remain in the prostate gland permanently. The radiation released by the seeds kills the cancerous cell in the prostate gland. Due to radioactive decay, these radioactive seeds disintegrate over time and become safe to stay in the prostate gland (Mason Moffat,2010). This procedure requires no incision and is carried out on as a day-case procedure. It also has a good side effects profile therefore its safer compared to other methods of treatment (Fischer, 2011). When the seeds are active the patients must take some precautionary measures such, staying away from children to avoid exposing them to radiation and using a condom during sexual intercourse as there is a possibility of a seed being expelled on ejaculation (Lucas, 2004). High-dose, rate temporary brachytherapy involves placing very tiny catheters into the prostate gland and then giving a series of radiation treatment through the catheters (Mason Moffat, 2010).A computer-controlled machine pushes the radioactive seeds one by one into the catheters. The oncologist is able