Experienced and highly trained Mayo Clinic radiation oncologists have performed brachytherapy, an advanced treatment for people who have cancer, for nearly 20 years. More than 2,000 patients have received brachytherapy treatment for cancer at Mayo Clinic.
"Brachy" is a Greek word meaning short. Brachytherapy involves treating disease by exposure to a radioactive substance (radiotherapy). Doctors place a small radioactive source (pellet or seed) in or a short distance from a cancerous tumor. Brachytherapy allows use of a high dose of radiation while reducing the risk of damage to nearby healthy tissue and increasing the likelihood the cancer is destroyed.
Doctors may place brachytherapy seeds inside a body cavity, such as the vagina, or insert seeds into body tissue using hollow needles. Brachytherapy may be used alone or with radiation given externally. Radioactive seeds may be left permanently in place or removed after some time.
Most radiation given off affects the area immediately next to the seeds and the radiation dose to nearby healthy tissues is low. Many people have no major side effects from brachytherapy.
In Mayo Clinic's system, radiation oncologists work closely with other specialists, including oncologists, urologists and anesthesiologists, to find the most appropriate treatment.
Mayo Clinic: Answers you can trust
At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.
Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.
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Jul. 29, 2011
- Brachytherapy. RadiologyInfo.org. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=brachy. Accessed May 17, 2011.
- Radiation therapy and you: Support for people with cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/radiation-therapy-and-you/allpages. Accessed May 17, 2011.
- Brachytherapy. RT Answers. http://www.rtanswers.org/treatmentinformation/treatmenttypes/brachytherapy.aspx. Accessed May 17, 2011.