Brachytherapy treats cancer with radiation delivered from inside the body. This may involve implanting radiation directly into the tumour, or placing a radiation source close to it for a predetermined length of time.
The Clatterbridge Clinic offers brachytherapy for prostate and gynaecological cancers, and a specialised form of brachytherapy called Papillon Therapy for rectal cancer.
For patients with certain types of prostate cancer, low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy, also known as radioactive seed brachytherapy, may be recommended. Radioactive seeds are inserted into the prostate gland whilst under a general anaesthetic. The radiation is highly targeted and only travels a few millimetres outside of the prostate, so adjacent organs are spared from side effects.
HDR (high dose rate) brachytherapy can also be used to treat prostate cancer and is often combined with external beam radiotherapy. It allows a large dose of radiation to be delivered through fine tubes that are inserted into the prostate through the skin. This is a single treatment delivered under general anaesthetic.
Cancers of the endometrium (womb) or cervix often require treatment with external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy. This allows the dose of radiotherapy to the pelvis to be increased, but as the radiation travels only a short distance it minimises the impact to surrounding tissues.