Brachytherapy is a form of internal radiation therapy where a small radioactive source is delivered directly to the tumour.

The radioactive sources are enclosed in protective capsules that travel through special applicators to the part of the body containing cancer. Sometimes the radiation sources may be implanted directly into an organ during a surgical procedure. The main advantage of brachytherapy is that large doses of radiation can be delivered directly to the tumour.

What is brachytherapy used for?

Brachytherapy can be an effective treatment for several cancers and may be used alone or in conjunction with other types of treatment. Brachytherapy can be an effective treatment for some types of:

What does brachytherapy mean for you?

There are two main types of brachytherapy, and the treatment you receive will depend upon the type of cancer you have:

  • High dose rate brachytherapy involves positioning the radiation source into the cancer for a short period of time. The radiation source is guided into the area requiring treatment through special applicators (tubes) inserted into body cavities or tissues. The applicators are removed after each treatment for most patients. Some patients may stay overnight with the applicators in place and receive a number of treatments.
  • Low dose rate brachytherapy is used for treating some types of prostate cancer. It involves implanting around one hundred small radioactive seeds into the prostate gland. The seeds remain in the prostate permanently and deliver a continuous radiation dose to the prostate over a period of approximately six months. The radiation dose emitted by the seeds is low, which makes them safe for permanent implantation. You will be able to live normally after a seed implant.

The brachytherapy team

Brachytherapy treatment is planned and delivered at our Peter Mac Melbourne site.

The Peter MacCallum brachytherapy team is made up of specialist radiation oncologists, radiation therapists and medical physicists. We also work closely with surgical oncologists and anaesthetists when intraoperative brachytherapy is used. Our team has a strong research focus and has published many technical and clinical papers. Taking care of patients is our priority, and we are constantly seeking ways to improve both the service to our patients and the outcomes for our patients. The Peter Mac radiation therapy team is proud to offer this treatment, and we are dedicated to developing and progressing treatment options for the people of Victoria.

Please speak with your doctor to determine if brachytherapy is the appropriate treatment choice for you.