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3 Benefits Of Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy, or internal radiation, is one treatment option for certain cancers. This form of radiation may be used alone or in combination with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. When possible, there are several benefits to using internal radiation over external radiation.

Better Precision

One of the challenges associated with conventional radiation therapy is taking exact measurements to be confident the radiation beam is affecting the cancerous tissue with minimal contact with surrounding, healthy tissue. Although today's technology for radiation therapy is highly accurate, there may always be some residual effects on the surrounding tissue. Since internal radiation is either inserted directly into the tumor or within a body cavity the process can be more precise. Internal radiation may be especially beneficial for tumors or cancer within organs that have a deeper placement within the body. For example, internal radiation for prostate cancer can be a better alternative than external radiation because the prostate is nestled between other organs. In the case of prostate cancer, an external beam of radiation may affect the intestines and bladder.

Less Adverse Effects

Since radiation therapy is not systemic, there are usually no extreme side effects that may occur with most forms of chemotherapy. Internal radiation can have a lower risk of adverse effects than external radiation due to the targeted nature and bypassing the skin. In some instances of external radiation, some people may develop skin burns, irritation, or ulceration where the radiation beam meets the skin. Since internal radiation requires a more significant procedure to be done than external radiation, there may be some discomfort when the radiation is inserted. The radiation is typically inserted under general anesthesia, but patients usually go home and resume their normal activities quickly after the procedure.

Fewer Treatment Sessions

In some instances, internal radiation may need to be done less often than external radiation, depending on whether the treatment is a high or low dose. Some cancers may be treated with high-dose internal radiation, which may be inserted into the appropriate place and left for a few days or less. Low-dose radiation can require the radiation to be inserted into the affected organ and left in permanently. This form of radiation slowly emits radiation until treatment is finished. Although every treatment is different, this can mean some people who have internal radiation may need fewer treatment sessions, which can make treatment less inconvenient.

The treatment approach to cancer is contingent upon the type, stage, and location of the cancer, with some cancers being treated via a combination of treatments. Some forms of cancer benefit more from internal radiation than external radiation therapy. There are often significant benefits to brachytherapy than conventional radiation treatments.

For more information, contact a cancer treatment center