High-Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR)
HDR brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy that delivers
high doses of radiation from a radioactive pellet - similar to a small
bead - moving close to, or inside, the tumor(s) in the body. Radioactive
pellets are typically inserted using a special applicator. This technique
ensures the maximum radiation dose is delivered directly to cancerous
tissues, while minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue.
High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy offers a faster way to deliver radiation
treatments for some patients. For many cancer types, the entire HDR brachytherapy
treatment is delivered over three to five doses or days, instead of five
to seven weeks for external beam radiation therapy (EBRT). Depending on
the type and stage of cancer, HDR brachytherapy may be combined with external
beam radiation, which can vary treatment times.
Because cancer often affects organs that are essential to daily functioning,
it is important for radiation treatment to be tightly focused on tumors
to avoid serious side effects. To facilitate HDR brachytherapy treatment,
hollow applicators are inserted by our doctors directly into tumors or
body cavity to deliver a precise, three-dimensional dose of radiation.
Before each treatment, physicians check the position of the applicators
with millimeter precision.
Computer guidance controls how far the pellet goes into the applicators
and how long the pellet stays in the applicators to release its radiation
dose. HDR brachytherapy can provide an extremely precise treatment for
cancer in just a few minutes and usually does not require any sedation.
This type of radiation can be used for breast cancer and gynecological
Click on the following links to see how each of the brachytherapy devices work: